If you’re going through a divorce in Louisiana, you may be wondering if you qualify for spousal support. You may be entitled to payments from your spouse if you meet the state requirements. Divorce can be one of the most stressful events of your life, so you need to know your rights and be as prepared as you can be.
You may want to consult with an experienced Louisiana divorce attorney to discuss your options when going through a divorce. Attorneys are trained and have experience dealing with these difficult matters and can help you with your claim for spousal support.
The 2 Types of Spousal Support in Louisiana
There are two types of spousal support that you will hear people talking about – Interim Spousal Support and Final Periodic Spousal Support. One is temporary and one is final. Louisiana Civil Code Article 111 states that “In a proceeding for divorce or thereafter, the court may award interim periodic support to a party or may award final periodic support to a party who is in need of support and who is free from fault prior to the filing of a proceeding to terminate the marriage…”
First, let’s discuss final periodic support and how you can qualify. Louisiana Civil Code Article 112 gives us some insight: “When a spouse has not been at fault prior to the filing of a petition for divorce and is in need of support, based on the needs of that party and the ability of the other party to pay, that spouse may be awarded final periodic support…”
There are certain requirements that must be met in order to qualify for final periodic spousal support:
- You’re not at fault;
- You’re in need of financial support;
- Your spouse can pay.
What does it mean to not be at fault for the breakup of the divorce? This merely means that you did not contribute to the breakdown of the divorce. Sure, we all make mistakes in our marriages, but the court is talking about the BIG mistakes.
Here’s What The Court Looks At To determine the Amount and Duration of Final Spousal Support
The same code article instructs us: La. Civil Code Art. 112 (C) states: “The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the amount and duration of final support, including:
- The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such means.
- The financial obligations of the parties, including any interim allowance or final child support obligations.
- The earning capacity of the parties.
- The effect of custody of children upon a party’s earning capacity.
- The time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment.
- The health and age of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The tax consequences to either or both parties.
- The existence, effect, and duration of any act of domestic abuse committed by the other spouse upon the claimant, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the act of domestic violence.
As you can see, the court will take a lot of information to determine whether you qualify for spousal support and then will consider multiple financial aspects of you and your spouse’s lives to determine how much money and how long you will receive payments. It’s not an easy process as you can tell and you may want to consider consulting an attorney that specializes in spousal support in Louisiana to ensure you get everything that is entitled to you.
Can You Get Spousal Support While Waiting for Final Spousal Support?
Yes, there is interim spousal support that fills in the gap while you wait for the court’s determination. Louisiana Civil Code Article 113 explains further: “Upon motion of a party or when a demand for final spousal support is pending, the court may award a party an interim spousal support allowance based on the needs of that party, the ability of the other party to pay, any interim allowance or final child support obligation, and the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, which award of interim spousal support allowance shall terminate upon the rendition of a judgment of divorce.
Here are the qualifications for interim spousal support broken down:
- Motion for final spousal support;
- You have a financial need;
- Your spouse has the ability to pay
- Your standard of living that you were accustomed to during the marriage.
Notice that for interim spousal support, there is no qualification that you were “Not at fault.” This means a spouse could be the reason the marriage failed and still receive interim spousal support at least until the divorce is final. While an at-fault spouse likely won’t qualify for final spousal support if it can be proven, they can still receive interim spousal support until the signing of the judgment of divorce.
Who Pays Spousal Support in Louisiana?
Usually, the high earner in the marriage pays spousal support if the other spouse can prove that they have a financial need, they weren’t at fault (final support) and the other spouse has income to pay. Spousal support is fairly common in marriage where one spouse works and the other stays home to raise children.
Can Men Get Spousal Support?
Spousal support isn’t based on gender. Men are able to get spousal support in Louisiana if they qualify.
Can Periodic Spousal Support Be Modified or Stopped?
Periodic spousal support can in fact be modified. Louisiana Civil Code Article 114 states: “An award of periodic support may be modified if the circumstances of either party materially change and shall be terminated if it has become unnecessary. The subsequent remarriage of the obligor spouse shall not constitute a change of circumstances.
In short, periodic spousal support may be changed or stopped completely if these factors exist:
- A change in financials for either party could warrant a change;
- Periodic support has become unnecessary.
However, if the spouse ordered to pay periodic support gets remarried, he or she is still on the hook for support to the first spouse. Many people try to get remarried quickly thinking it will stop them from having to pay periodic support, but this is not true in Louisiana.
Can Final Spousal Support Be Modified?
Yes, the obligation of final spousal support may be modified, waived, or extinguished by judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction or by authentic act or act under private signature duly acknowledged by the obligee, per La. Civil Code Art. 116.
Can Spousal Support be Stopped When Spouse Remarries?
You may be wondering if you can still receive spousal support after you get remarried. It’s a valid question as your financial future may be at stake. The body of law dealing with spousal support in Louisiana has come to the conclusion that spousal support is terminated when the spouse receiving spousal support remarries. A brief look at La. Civil Code Article 115, “The obligation of spousal support is extinguished upon the remarriage of the obligee (spouse receiving support), the death of either party, or a judicial determination that the obligee has cohabited with another person of either sex in the manner of married persons.
To recap, spousal support may be terminated or stopped when the following happens:
- Spouse receiving support remarries;
- Either party dies;
- The spouse receiving support lives with someone as if they were married. This includes either sex.
You can lose the ability to receive spousal support by remarrying, cohabitating or the death of either spouse.
Can a Spouse Who Cheated Get Spousal Support in Louisiana?
A cheating spouse may receive interim spousal support, but not final periodic spousal support if the other spouse can prove it. It may not seem fair that one party can cheat on the other and still receive interim spousal support, but that is the way the law is written in Louisiana at the time of this article.
What Does “At-Fault” Mean in a Louisiana Divorce?
You may have heard the term, “At-Fault,” while researching your divorce. It basically means that one person did something to cause the breakdown of the marriage. Like stated previously, everyone does minor things that may get on the other spouse’s nerves, but we’re talking about big issues such as the ones discusses by Louisiana Civil Code Article 103 and are listed here:
- The other spouse has committed adultery;
- The other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor;
- During the marriage, the other spouse physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking divorce or a child of one of the spouses, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the act of abuse;
- After a contradictory hearing or consent decree, a protective order or an injunction was issued during the marriage to protect the other spouse.
What if I Didn’t Mention Spousal Support at My Divorce Hearing?
You may still have time. The Civil Code states in article 117 that, “The right to claim after divorce the obligation of spousal support is subject to a peremption of three years. Peremption begins to run from the latest of the following events:
- The day the judgment of divorce is signed.
- The day a judgment terminating a previous judgment of spousal support is signed, if the previous judgment was signed in an action commenced either before the signing of the judgment of divorce or within three years thereafter.
- The day of the last payment made, when the spousal support obligation is initially performed by voluntary payment within the periods described in Paragraph 1 or 2 and no more than three years have elapsed between payments.
While you may not have lost the chance to file for spousal support, the clock is ticking and you should call an attorney who handles these types of cases as soon as you can or you could lose the right.
Here’s an article to help you determine if you should file your own divorce in Louisiana without an attorney.
Do I Need an Attorney to Get Spousal Support in Louisiana?
It is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Louisiana to pursue spousal support. There are a lot of moving parts to the pursuit of spousal support and you also need to make sure you understand how to maintain spousal support if you are awarded because you can lose it.
Do I Need an Attorney If My Spouse Has Filed for Spousal Support?
Once again, it is highly recommended that you seek an attorney if your spouse has filed a Rule to Show Cause to determine spousal support with the court system. There is a lot at stake and you want to make sure you don’t end up paying much more than you should if you are in fact responsible for paying spousal support. This is not the type of matter you should attempt on your own because you will have to introduce evidence at court and know exactly what to file in order to protect yourself.
How Do I Find a Spousal Support Attorney in Louisiana?
Finding the right attorney can be tough with the number of options in the state. The best way to find the perfect attorney for you is to read reviews and meet with a number of them for free consultations. Here is an article that gives you some tips when choosing an attorney in Louisiana.
Louisiana Civil Code Articles mentioned in this article:
- Louisiana Civil Code Article 103,
- Louisiana Civil Code Article 111,
- Louisiana Civil Code Article 112,
- Louisiana Civil Code Article 113,
- Louisiana Civil Code Article 114,
- Louisiana Civil Code Article 115,
- Louisiana Civil Code Article 116,
- Louisiana Civil Code Article 117