Does Cheating Affect Alimony?
Louisiana presently has a 12% divorce rate, according to data from World Population Review. Marriages all over the country end for a variety of reasons, one of the most common reasons being adultery. Depending on the state, adultery can greatly affect divorce proceedings including things like spousal support, for example.
If you’re pursuing a fault-based, Louisiana divorce because your spouse cheated on you, you may be curious about Louisiana alimony laws and how they will affect your divorce judgment. Shreveport divorce attorney Michael J. Vergis can answer all your questions and more. Call 318-618-8129 today for a free consultation.
What is Alimony?
Alimony is also known as spousal support. Basically, alimony is monthly payments that are provided to an ex-spouse during divorce proceedings. The main purpose behind spousal support is to allow both ex-spouses to continue living the same lifestyle as they did before the divorce (except, obviously, without each other in the picture).
Spousal support is generally awarded to the spouse who doesn’t make enough money to live comfortably, or for a spouse who doesn’t make money at all. Spouses who end marriages that have lasted more than 10 years most commonly receive alimony payments until death, remarriage, or until a court order ceases the payments entirely.
Factors for Determining the Appropriate Amount of Spousal Support
The amount of spousal support that a spouse receives varies from state to state, but it generally depends on the several factors listed below.
- How long the marriage lasted;
- Present and future salaries of each spouse;
- Financial obligations of each spouse;
- Earning capacity of each spouse;
- How child custody impacts the earning capacity of one parent;
- How much time it takes for the lower earning spouse to get a job or achieve appropriate education and training for a job;
- Each spouse’s health and age;
- Whether or not domestic violence existed in the marriage;
- Each spouse’s tax consequences.
It is also important to note that a judge cannot require one of the spouses to allocate more than one-third of their salary for spousal support.
Types of Alimony
There are several types of spousal support that spouses can qualify for once a marriage ends. These include:
- Temporary Alimony. This type of spousal support ends once the divorce process is complete, and generally pays for divorce-related bills.
- Permanent Alimony. The higher earning spouse sends money monthly to the receiving spouse until they die or until they get remarried.
- Rehabilitative Alimony. This type of spousal support stops once a spouse gets back on their feet. In other words, the paying spouse sends money to the other spouse until they get a decent-paying job or until they achieve the necessary education or training that will help them get a good job.
- Reimbursement Alimony. The paying spouse offers this type of spousal support for the sake of the other spouse’s financial obligations, including tuition or work training. Once the schooling or training comes to an end, so does the reimbursement alimony.
- Lump-Sum Alimony. Courts may award alimony of this kind when one spouse doesn’t want valuable items or property from their marital assets.
No Fault Divorce vs. Fault Divorce
Only 19 states are no-fault divorce states, which means that you can only file for a no-fault divorce. Louisiana is one of the 31 states that allows divorcing couples to file for either a no-fault divorce or a fault divorce. But what’s the difference between the two?
“Irreconcilable differences” or an “irreparable disintegration of the marriage” are the most common reasons cited by spouses seeking this type of divorce. The spouse who receives the divorce petition legally can’t reject the other spouse’s petition for divorce. Before the spouse seeking divorce can apply for the petition, many states require the couple to live apart for a specified length of time.
Fault divorces, on the other hand, are much less common than no-fault divorces. Spouses may file a fault-based divorce for the following reasons:
- Domestic violence;
- A prison sentence or felony conviction;
- Abandonment by the other spouse;
- Some kind of physical disability that prevents a spouse from having sexual intercourse;
- The other spouse physically or sexually abused the children;
- A protective order is already in place against one of the spouses due to domestic abuse.
It’s important to note that merely claiming adultery is not enough evidence to file a fault-based divorce. Louisiana courts require the spouse who filed the petition for divorce to prove that the adultery that occurred is the sole reason why the marriage failed.
In fault-based divorces, many states don’t require the couple to live apart for a specified period of time before someone files the petition. Additionally, the spouse seeking support can win more marital property or alimony money in some states. Because of these two factors, fault-based divorces are often the more attractive option to spouses.
But what happens when both spouses file for a fault-based divorce in Louisiana? In such circumstances, Louisiana courts will then have to decide who is less at fault. Courts then grant the divorce to whoever is less at fault, also known as comparative rectitude. This rule was designed to solve the issue of courts refusing to grant a divorce to both parties if they were equally at fault.
What is a Covenant Marriage in Louisiana?
Louisiana is one of only three states that have what are called “covenant marriages.” The other states include Arkansas and Arizona. Covenant marriages are different from traditional marriages because both spouses vow that the marriage will last until death. Though divorce is not quite impossible, it is much more difficult to achieve than in a traditional or non-covenant marriage. In order to enter a marriage like this, Louisiana law requires the couple to sign a Declaration of Intent, which states that the spouses:
- Will remain husband and wife until death;
- Have carefully chosen each other and have told each other everything that could potentially cause marital problems;
- Has endured premarital counseling together with a religious leader;
- Will do everything they possibly can to preserve the marriage if problems arise, including additional marital counseling.
The couple can only file a petition for a divorce or legal separation under the specific circumstances listed below:
- A spouse committed adultery;
- A spouse physically or sexually abused the other spouse or their children;
- The spouses have already lived separately for at least two years;
- One spouse received a felony conviction or a prison sentence of some kind;
- A spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol which greatly impacts the marriage and the children.
How Cheating Affects Alimony in Louisiana
Adultery may significantly impact spousal support in a Louisiana fault-based divorce. However, Louisiana law states that lower-income spouses can only receive spousal support if they:
- Need financial support; OR
- Didn’t commit any of the aforementioned marital misconduct before filing their divorce petition.
Basically, the spouse who committed adultery, which is proven to have led to the end of the marriage, cannot receive spousal support under Louisiana law.
How Adultery Affects Child Custody and Child Support in Louisiana
If spouses are enduring a fault-based divorce and they share minor children, courts must also decide who should provide child support. There are many factors that courts consider when it comes to deciding the appropriate amount of child support, but adultery is actually not one of them. The court’s goal during divorce is to give the minor children the best life possible following a divorce judgment. This means that courts will consider each parent’s moral fitness, and how it may affect the quality of a child’s life.
Though adultery in and of itself is not enough to determine appropriate child custody and child support guidelines, in the case that one spouse cheated and engaged in other dangerous behavior, such as domestic violence, then a court will likely assign child custody in Louisiana to the other parent. An experienced Shreveport family law attorney can walk you through the specifics of your case in regard to child custody and child support in Louisiana.
Call Attorney Michael J. Vergis Today
If you’re seeking a fault-based divorce and want to receive appropriate alimony because your spouse committed adultery, attorney at law Michael J. Vergis can help. With decades of experience in Louisiana family law matters such as alimony, Michael J. Vergis knows what it takes to handle your case efficiently and effectively. Call 318-618-8129 today for a free consultation.