Louisiana Divorce FAQs – Alimony

This is about alimony after divorce in Louisiana, including when courts order alimony, how the amount of alimony is set in Louisiana, and how and when Louisiana courts stop alimony once it’s awarded.

This information is from Adam Lambert, the DivorceInfo Network Lawyer for Louisiana. Click here to visit his web site.

When does alimony get paid?

In Louisiana, there are two types of “Spousal Support” (sometimes called “Alimony”). The first is called “Temporary Support” (also called “Alimony Pendente Lite” or “Alimony Pending Litigation”) and is awarded to a spouse who does not have sufficient income for his or her maintenance pending the divorce. The most important factor here is the standard of living which existed during the marriage. Temporary Support is designed to maintain the status quo of both spouses’ living conditions to the extent that is possible. 

The second type of spousal support is “Post-Divorce Spousal Support” (also called “Permanant Alimony”). Post-Divorce Spousal Support is designed to provide the needy ex-spouse with the basic necessities of life. Post-Divorce Spousal Support can be awarded to an ex-spouse who: 

– Is found to be free from fault in the breakdown of the marriage; and 

– Does not have sufficient means for his or her own support. 

Note that the fault of the paying party is irrelevant to the issue of spousal support. The needy spouse must show that he or she is FREE FROM FAULT, but it matters not whether or not the paying spouse is at fault or not. Also note that, in determining whether or not a party has sufficient means for their own support, a court may allocate income to the needy party above his or her actual income if the needy party is “voluntarily” unemployed or underemployed. 

There are no statutory guidelines for deciding what constitutes “fault” for purposes of alimony, however, courts have routinely used jurisprudence and former articles of the Civil Code Articles dealing with “fault” in the context of divorce to decide the issue. 

To see an example of SOME of the factors constituting “fault”, see Louisiana Civil Code Article 103.

How does the court decide how much?

The amount of Temporary Spousal Support is decided on the standard of living existing during the marriage. 

The amount of Post-Divorce Spousal Support is decided based on the needy party’s needs and the payor’s ability to pay. Note also that the same rule for “voluntary” unemployment and underemployment of the needy ex-spouse can apply to the payor ex-spouse. If the payor ex-spouse intentionally reduces his or her income in an attempt to lower alimony, the court can attribute that party’s “potential income” to him or her, whether or not the payor is actually achieving that potential.

What does it take to change alimony?

As with child support, alimony can be changed at any time if a “material change in circumstances” occurs. This change can be a change of either party–the payor’s ability to pay or the need of the receiving party. A good example of this would be when the party receiving alimony finishes school and becomes able to make more income.

When does alimony stop?

Temporary Spousal Support stops upon dissolution of the marriage. Post-Divorce Spousal Support stops when the receiving party is no longer needy, remarries, dies, or lives in “open concubinage” with another person (lives with another person openly as if they were married). 

Upon divorce, parties can also agree to “Lump Sum” alimony, which is basically a contract between the parties to have the payor give a specified sum to the other party (in one actual “lump sum” of over a specified period of time with a payment schedule). This type of alimony will end upon the terms of the agreement.

Other issues in Louisiana:

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