Metairie Spousal Support Lawyer
Although the “traditional” family, with a working father and stay-at-home mother, is pretty much a thing of the past, there is almost always some income disparity between the parties in any marriage. When the parties are combining their incomes, they are able to create a standard of living that neither may be able to maintain on their own. After a divorce, the partner with the lower income may suddenly find it hard to make ends meet, and often must make lifestyle changes.
The purpose of spousal support is to maintain for both parties, to the greatest extent possible, the standard of living that they enjoyed during their marriage. In Louisiana, spouses may collect temporary and/or permanent support.
Temporary Support in Louisiana
Temporary support may be awarded to a spouse while a divorce case is pending, and has several purposes.
- If the spouse lives in the marital home, temporary support will allow that party to maintain the home and other marital property while the divorce is pending.
- Temporary support may help level the playing field in a divorce action. If one spouse makes significantly more money, he/she will be able to afford legal representation. If the other party cannot afford to hire a lawyer, he/she will be at a great disadvantage.
- Temporary support can help maintain stability for the parties’ children during an already difficult time.
In determining the amount of temporary support, the court will consider the incomes of both parties, the standard of living of the parties during their marriage, the temporary custody arrangement between the parties, the needs of the party asking of support, and the ability of the other spouse to pay. Temporary support is awarded regardless of who may have been at fault for the divorce and will end when a judgment for divorce is granted.
Final Spousal Support in Louisiana
The fault of the parties will be an important issue in determining whether an award of final spousal support is appropriate. A former spouse may only receive spousal support if it is determined that he was free from fault for the dissolution of the marriage. Even if the divorce is granted on no-fault grounds, evidence of adultery, physical or emotional abuse, or abandonment may be used against a party seeking permanent spousal support.
If one party is found to be free from fault, and the other party is found to be guilty of domestic abuse during the marriage, Louisiana law requires the court to award spousal support, either in a lump sum payment or in periodic payments.
If the requesting party is found to be free of fault, and no domestic abuse is alleged or proven, an award of spousal support may be made. The statute specifies the factors which the court is to consider in determining the amount of support:
- The income and means of the parties – This includes employment income, investment income, and assets.
- The financial obligations of the parties – This includes any child support payments, even payments made for children from prior relationships.
- The earning capacity of the parties – The level of education, and any special job training or skills might be considered in determining to earn capacity. The custody arrangement may also be considered. A party with sole physical custody of very young children, for example, would not be required to work.
- The duration of the marriage. Permanent support is rarely awarded if the parties were married for a very short time.
- The age and physical health of the parties.
- Whether the requesting party is able to acquire additional education, training or employment, and the length of time necessary to do so.
- The tax consequences to both parties. Depending on the custody and child support arrangement, either the custodial or the non-custodial parent may be able to claim a tax deduction for the children of the marriage.
The amount of spousal support may not exceed one-third of the payor’s net income unless the payor has been determined to be guilty of domestic abuse. The payor may be found to be guilty of domestic abuse even if there has been no conviction for domestic abuse in a criminal court.
A court may award a lump sum payment or a periodic payment for a specified period of time. The court may also make an award of spousal support to continue indefinitely.
When Does A Support Obligation End in Louisiana?
The parties may agree, or a court may order, that spousal support continue for a period of time after the divorce becomes final. The receiving party would have to request another court order for the support to continue after the specified date.
A spousal support obligation automatically ends with the death of either party and with the marriage of the receiving party. Louisiana law also provides that a spousal support obligation will end when the receiving party cohabits with another person of either sex “in the manner of married persons.”
Modification of Spousal Support in Louisiana
The parties may agree in writing to modify or terminate spousal support. Either party may request a court to terminate or modify an award of spousal support. The party making the request must show that circumstances have changed since the original order. Changes in circumstances that may warrant a modification of a spousal support order would include:
- A substantial change in the income of the payor due to a layoff, demotion, or other circumstance beyond the control of the payor.
- A change in the payor’s health that affects his ability to work.
- An increase in the income or earning capacity of the payee due to a new job, completion of education, or a promotion.
- A substantial change for the better or worse, in the financial obligations of either party.
Consult a Metairie, La. Family Law Attorney Today
An experienced Louisiana family law attorney can help you calculate the amount of support that may be appropriate in your case. Metairie spousal support attorney Candice Bennatt has helped many clients get the support they need to get their lives back together after a divorce. Call her at 504-777-3500 to see what she can do for you.