When two people decide to end their marriage, one of the earliest questions is whether either spouse is eligible to receive alimony payments from the other. Many residents of Baton Rouge have asked this question, and rarely have they received a short, specific answer. The reason for the lack of definitive answers is the number of factors that must be considered by the court in answering the question.

The first criterion is whether the spouse requesting alimony has been at fault during the marriage. Fault will act as an immediate limitation on the right to receive support from the other spouse. If the requesting party has not been at fault, the court is required to consider “all relevant factors in determining the amount and duration of final support.”

The relevant factors include the income and means of the parties. The court must also consider the financial obligations that are owed by each party. Each party’s earning capacity must also be taken into account, including the effect of child custody on earning capacity. Earning capacity includes the amount of time that the claimant spouse requires to acquire relevant education, training or employment. The court may also consider the health and age of the parties, the duration of the marriage and the tax consequences of an award of support. The statute limits support to one-third of the obligor’s net income.

In the end, whether the court will award alimony depends upon the unique circumstances of each spouse and their children. For example, a couple with no children will be in a far different situation than a couple with three young children. An experienced divorce attorney may be able to provide helpful advice on whether and how much alimony a court will award.