LOUISIANA SPOUSAL SUPPORT
LAWYER FOR ALIMONY IN LOUISIANA
Life during and after divorce can become expensive for most people, especially those who don’t make enough money to support themselves without a partner. Aside from the obvious expenses that come with divorce proceedings, going back to relying on your own individual income can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid going broke and even maintain your current style of living. That’s where periodic, permanent, and interim spousal support – also known as alimony – comes in.
To make sure you get the alimony you deserve, it’s important that you obtain the help of an experienced Bossier City family law attorney like Michael J. Vergis. Not only will Attorney at Law Mike Vergis ensure that your divorce case goes smoothly, but he will also ensure that you receive appropriate Louisiana alimony after your divorce. For a free consultation, call 318-698-3724 today.
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also called spousal support, is a monthly payment made from one spouse to another once a judgement of divorce is final. Generally, the spouse who doesn’t make any money or who doesn’t make enough money to live on their own will receive the monthly spousal support. The main goal behind these payments is to ensure that both ex-spouses can live the same lifestyle as they always have, minus the marriage, of course.
Types of Alimony in Louisiana
There are many different types of alimony. Some states recognize all of them, while some states only recognize some. Louisiana, in particular, recognizes the three types of spousal support listed below:
- Interim Spousal Support is also called temporary alimony or interim allowance. These payments are supposed to help the less fortunate spouse pay for divorce-related expenses. Interim spousal support ends once the divorce process concludes. In very few circumstances, courts can order interim spousal support to continue six months after the divorce process comes to a close.
- Periodic Spousal Support, also known as final periodic support, is a type of spousal support obligation that’s available once the divorce is complete. Final periodic support is the most common type of alimony in Louisiana, and it’s generally awarded until the receiving spouse can gain financial independence. A court can order one of the spouses to pay final periodic spousal support until the other spouse dies, remarries, or no longer requires financial support. Each party can modify the terms of final spousal support as needed.
- Permanent Spousal Support is rare. However, if a court determines that one of the spouses needs permanent support after divorce, then it will be so. This means the paying spouse will award spousal support until they die or the other spouse dies. Permanent support is most commonly awarded to spouses who are disabled, are too old to work, or otherwise have a low earning capacity.
Calculating Alimony in Louisiana
After a divorce, the paying spouse will make a court ordered payment every two weeks, every month, or semi-annually. The amount of interim spousal support, final periodic support, or permanent support will depend on the paying spouse’s net income. Generally, spousal support awards won’t exceed 30% of the spouse’s income.
Qualifying for Alimony in Louisiana
The first step for a claimant to acquire appropriate interim, permanent, or final spousal support payments is proving to the court that you need it. A spouse seeking support also needs to prove to the court that the other spouse can comfortably make such financial contributions. Once the court determines that there’s a “need and ability to pay” under Louisiana law (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 112), the judge will consider whether the divorce is a no-fault divorce or a fault divorce. Generally, the spouse seeking final spousal support must be found not at fault in order to actually receive support payments.
No-Fault Divorce Vs. Fault Divorce
The main difference between a no-fault divorce and a fault divorce is that a no-fault divorce isn’t caused by anything other than “irreconcilable differences” or an “irreparable disintegration of the marriage.” If one spouse issues a Louisiana divorce petition, the other spouse can’t just deny it. A fault divorce, on the other hand, is one caused by:
- Domestic abuse
- Adultery (See our blog Adultery Laws LA: Does Cheating Affect Alimony?)
- A felony conviction
- Abandonment by the other spouse
- A physical disability that prevents one spouse from engaging in sexual intercourse
- Sexual or domestic abuse committed towards the children
- A protective order issued by the victim of domestic violence
In order to file an at-fault divorce, Louisiana law requires the spouse that filed the divorce petition to prove one of the aforementioned faults. So if a spouse is claiming abuse, they must be able to prove it somehow. Only then will the court grant a judgment of divorce with fault.
It’s important to note that the state will only grant a divorce if a couple (without children) lives apart for 180 days. However, if the couple has children, the state will only grant a divorce if the couple lives apart for one year.
Can You Divorce and Receive Alimony After a Covenant Marriage in Louisiana?
Yes, if you’re in a covenant marriage, you can still get a divorce and you can still receive final spousal support. Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona are the only three states that offer covenant marriages. Louisiana, however, was the first U.S. state to pass a covenant marriage law in 1997.
Covenant Marriage Requirements
Covenant marriages are very similar to regular marriages except they require more legal steps to “ensure” that the marriage will last forever. Because there are more steps in order to get into a covenant marriage, there are naturally more steps to get out of it. For instance, both parties must 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 lead to marital discord
- Have gone through premarital counseling together with a religious clergy member
- Will do everything they can to avoid divorce, even if that means more marital counseling down the line
Covenant Marriage Divorce Requirements
A court may award a judgment of divorce for a covenant marriage under the following circumstances:
- One or both spouses committed adultery
- A spouse was a victim of domestic violence in the marriage
- The children were physically or sexually abused by one or both of the spouses
- The spouses have already lived apart for two years
- One or both of the spouses were addicted to drugs or alcohol which greatly impacted the health of the marriage and the family
- One or both of the spouses received a felony conviction or a prison sentence
What Factors Affect Alimony in Louisiana?
Many relevant factors affect spousal support awards, according to Louisiana law (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 112), A court may award alimony after considering the following factors:
- The incomes of each spouse
- Each party’s financial obligations, which includes a final Louisiana child support obligation or extra allowance
- Each’s party’s earning capacity
- The effect of child custody on the custodial parent’s finances
- The amount of time the receiving spouse needs to undergo appropriate education, training, or employment
- Each spouse’s health and age
- How long the marriage lasted
- The tax consequences that one or both spouses may suffer following the divorce judgment
- Whether or not one spouse or the children suffered domestic violence during the marriage
- The duration of the domestic abuse committed by the other spouse
If the court determines that there was domestic violence or domestic abuse throughout the duration of the marriage, it can then order the abusive spouse to pay alimony that exceeds 30% of their annual income. The paying spouse can do this in the form of a lump sum payment, if desired.
Lump sum payments are also acceptable if the paying spouse doesn’t have a full-time job but instead has multiple assets. Additionally, a lump sum payment is appropriate if a spouse wants reimbursement for financial obligations they made towards the other spouse’s education or career throughout the duration of the marriage. In the case of reimbursement payments, the paying spouse will continue to provide this money even if the receiving spouse gets remarried.
What Happens if a Spouse Doesn’t Pay Spousal Support?
If one of the spouses fails to pay spousal support, then they will collect a type of debt called alimony arrears. Ultimately, if the paying spouse doesn’t fulfill interim or final periodic spousal support payments, they will receive a contempt of court charge.
Tax Consequences of Spousal Support
Alimony tax consequences for each party will vary from state to state. But interim, permanent, and final periodic spousal support payments are basically included as taxable income by the receiving spouse. Meanwhile, spousal support is deductible for the paying spouse. But the IRS will only recognize these payments as spousal support if:
- The spousal support is paid in cash
- The spouses don’t live together
- Payments are specifically used for spousal support, not child support or anything else
Need Spousal Support? Call Attorney at Law Michael J. Vergis Today
If you’re newly divorced and you’re seeking permanent, final, or interim spousal support, you need legal support from top Bossier divorce attorney Michael J. Vergis. He prioritizes every single attorney-client relationship while fighting for the monthly alimony checks that his clients deserve. For more information about how Bossier City lawyer Michael J. Vergis can help you during and after divorce, call 318-698-3724 or complete the online intake form for a free consultation today.