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Spousal support, or “alimony” as it’s commonly referred to, is monetary support of a spouse based on the “needs” of the recipient spouse and the “ability to pay” of the other.  It’s meant to maintain an established quality of life after a marriage ends and household incomes change.  An alimony agreement is often a contentious part of a divorce and can significantly impact both spouses financially for years, so it is crucial to retain a knowledgeable divorce attorney as early as possible.  If you are going through an alimony dispute be sure to retain the services of an experienced family law attorney.

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Types of Spousal Support

Interim support, formerly known as “alimony pendente lite,” consists of payments made to the recipient spouse to provide for his or her support on a temporary basis, during the divorce proceedings.  In some instances, it can be awarded in the immediate aftermath of the divorce for up to 180 days following the divorce decree.  The purpose is to keep the spouses economically even regardless of the fault of either spouse.

Final support, formerly known as “permanent alimony,” consists of payments made to the recipient spouse to provide for his or her support on a more or less permanent basis.  The purpose is to guarantee to the spouse in need a basic standard of living, on the condition that he or she has been free of fault for the divorce.  The recipient spouse must be in need meaning he or she can’t support themselves on their own income, and the paying spouse must have the ability to pay alimony.  Final spousal support is generally less than the amount a spouse will receive as interim spousal support.  Final support is limited to one-third of the payer’s net income. 

Final support is rare in modern times in which typically both spouses work.  Courts will typically award a spouse in need interim support for a predetermined period of time, wherein the recipient spouse will work to become financially independent.

Factors to Determine Spousal Support

La. Civ. Code art. 111 states that a court may award interim or final support to a party who is in need of support and who is free from fault prior to the filing of a proceeding to terminate the marriage.  Courts will consider a wide array of factors when determining whether to grant alimony and how much.  La. Civ. Code art. 112 provides a list of factors, including the income, means, and assets of the spouses; the liquidity of those assets; the financial obligations of the spouses; the earning capacity of the spouses; the effect of child custody on a spouse’s earning capacity; the time necessary for the recipient to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment; the spouses’ health and age; the spouses’ obligations to support and care for dependent children; tax consequences; and any other factor that the court deems relevant.  In essence, the court will consider the entire financial situation of both spouses, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

Modification & Termination

Per La. Civ Code art. 114, interim spousal support or final periodic support may be modified if the circumstances of either party materially change and shall be terminated if it has become unnecessary. The remarriage of the paying spouse does not constitute a material change.  However, per La. Civ. Code art. 115, if the recipient spouse remarries or lives with another person in “open concubinage” then spousal support will terminate. 

A material change may include the recipient spouse getting a higher paying job or coming into a significant amount of money, in which case the paying spouse may request a decrease or termination of alimony.  Conversely, if the spouse receiving alimony is demoted, develops a serious medical condition, or loses assets, he or she may request an increase in spousal support.

Prior to a divorce, the spouses may opt out of final support with a separate property agreement, but as a matter of public policy they may not contract out of interim support.

New Orleans Child Support Attorneys

BowesPetkovich & Palmer, LLC is a Gretna law firm that has served the New Orleans area since 1980.  Our experienced family law attorneys are well versed in all domestic matters including spousal support or alimony.  We take pride in offering a personal and trusted experience.  Call us today for a free consultation and find out why so many of our clients come back to us.

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spousal support and alimony lawyer

Other Family Law Matters We Handle:

Custody and Visitation
Child Support
Community Property Partitions
Separate Property Agreements
Restraining Orders


Related Articles:

Understanding Finances in Divorce
The Importance of a Will for Separate Property




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