Spousal support, maintenance or alimony, as it is sometimes called, can be an important issue in divorce. Although most couples tend to square up financially in the property division aspect of the dissolution process, in some cases it is appropriate to seek out a spousal support award. Spousal support can be either interim, until the divorce is completed, or final.
Although fault is generally not a relevant issue for other aspects of divorce in Louisiana, it is relevant in spousal support proceedings, since state law provides that final periodic support may only be awarded to a party who needs it and is free from fault prior to filing of divorce.
The amount and duration of an alimony award is based on the needs of the party seeking it and the ability of the other party to pay. Louisiana courts take all relevant factors are support into account when determining support awards, including:
- The duration of the marriage
- Any history and effects of domestic abuse
- The income and other financial resources of both parties, and the liquidity of any financial resources
- The earning capacity of the parties, and the effect of child custody on earning capacity
- The financial obligations of the parties
- The amount of time necessary to acquire education, training or employment
- The health and age of the parties
Spousal support awards may not be greater than one-third of the paying spouse’s net income, except in cases where there has been domestic abuse. Also, in cases where the spouse seeking support was subjected to domestic abuse during the marriage, a Louisiana court is able to award spousal support either as final periodic support or a lump sum award.
For those seeking marriage, protecting one’s financial interests is an important goal throughout the process. This is especially important for a party who is financially weaker and who has a lesser capacity to support him- or herself after the divorce. Seeking a spousal support award can be an important aspect of this, and an experienced attorney can help best position a spouse for the best possible outcome.