Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Louisiana

Who gets alimony (spousal support) after a divorce in Louisiana? How much will it be?

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Louisiana family law courts may grant alimony when one spouse needs financial support during or after a divorce. Alimony is designed to help the receiving spouse maintain the same standard of living after a divorce that the couple enjoyed while they were married. Even when the court makes an award for alimony, the expectation is that the recipient spouse will become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time.

Either spouse may ask for temporary alimony during the divorce, and for short-term or permanent alimony to continue after the divorce is completed. Temporary alimony is calculated based on the standard of living during the marriage, so it may be higher than permanent alimony, which is calculated based on financial need and may last for a number of years.

In Louisiana, fault plays a big part in alimony decisions. Before the court decides the amount of alimony payments, it must first establish that the spouse requesting alimony is not at fault for the breakdown of the marriage--a spouse who is at fault may not receive alimony. The term "fault" may include actions such as adultery, abuse, and abandonment.

Once the judge has decided that alimonhy is appropriate because fault isn't in play, the judge will review several factors, including each spouse’s ability to work, health, age, and financial obligations, as well as the length of the marriage and whether one spouse has primary custody of the children. It will also consider each spouse's earning capacity and the time it may take for the recipient spouse to acquire education or job training. The monthly amount of alimony cannot exceed one-third of the paying spouse's income; alimony may also be paid in a lump sum.

Either spouse may ask the court to change the alimony award if financial circumstances change. Alimony ends automatically if the spouse receiving support remarries or if either party dies. It may also end if the receiving spouse cohabitates with a partner of either sex.

The I.R.S requires the spouse receiving alimony to claim the payments as a deduction on federal income taxes. The receiving spouse must claim the alimony as income.

La. Civ. Code Ann. Art. 112, 115 - Spousal Support

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