Louisiana couples debating whether to seek a divorce often wonder if either of them will be entitled to spousal support, commonly called “alimony” by those in other states or formerly in Louisiana. The answer depends on the parties’ financial situations and their behavior during the marriage. In deciding whether one spouse will be required to pay alimony to the other, a court will weigh several factors.
“Alimony” awarded during the pendency of the divorce is referred to as temporary spousal support, while alimony ordered after the divorce is completed is known as final spousal support. Temporary spousal support is based upon the lifestyle of the parties while married, the payor’s resources and ability to pay and the needs of the person being supported, considering that marital lifestyle. Final support is intended to permit one party to meet their basic living expenses when they are in “necessitous circumstances,” in other words, could not make a basic living on their own. Permanent, or final support may also be awarded in cases involving domestic violence. A spouse who is the victim of domestic violence is presumed to be entitled to support, and/or an award of damages for being battered.
A motion for temporary support would be made for support while the divorce is pending, either by being separate and apart six months if the parties have no minor children or a year if there are minor children. In ruling on a motion for temporary support, the court will review the ability of each spouse to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. This consideration is not a part of an award for permanent support.
In deciding support issues, the court will consider each party’s ability to earn a satisfactory salary and decide whether either spouse will require special training to acquire valuable skills. The duration of the marriage will also affect the amount of support that may be ordered. The court may also take into account each spouse’s net assets and debts.
An important caveat in determining whether a spouse will be awarded alimony in a Louisiana divorce is the behavior of the spouses during the marriage. Any spouse whose conduct is determined to have caused the end of the marriage is not entitled to receive permanent spousal support. A spouse must be considered “free from fault” in the breakup of the marriage to receive support. The “fault” considered is not normal nagging, bickering or arguing, but fault that would support a ground for divorce. Fault is not considered for issues of temporary support. Fault committed or which occurs after the filing for divorce is not considered by the court deciding support issues.
Resolving issues of temporary and permanent spousal support can often be a complicated process. Anyone contemplating seeking “alimony” from a divorcing spouse may wish to consult an experienced family lawyer for advice.