Area of Law:
In the event of a divorce, if either spouse does not have a separate estate, or if a spouse's assets are not sufficient to offer a means of support, a judge might order alimony, which is also known as spousal support in Louisiana. Alimony is usually a monthly financial allowance paid by one spouse to another. The purpose of alimony is to offset any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to a non-wage earning or lower-wage earning spouse.
To be eligible for alimony, spouses in all states, including Louisiana, must have been legally married. Alimony is usually based on a settlement agreement made between the spouses or the discretion of a judge. According to lawyers.com, the alimony obligation in Louisiana is based on the relative needs and resources of both spouses.
There are three types of alimony available in Louisiana: temporary, permanent, and lump sum. Temporary alimony may be paid while the divorce is pending. Permanent alimony is paid regularly for an indefinite period of time or until the court terminates it or the recipient spouse remarries. Lump sum alimony may be agreed upon by the parties or calculated by the court and is usually made in one payment.
If a spouse seeking alimony is declared free of fault for the divorce, the amount may not exceed one-third of the paying spouse’s income, unless it is made in a lump sum payment. According to Louisiana law, the type and amount of alimony awarded in Louisiana depends on a variety of factors, including the following:
- The income, means, and assets of the spouses
- Liquidity of assets
- Comparative financial obligations of the spouses
- Earning capacity of the spouses
- Effect of custody of children on the spouse's earning capacity
- Time necessary for the recipient to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment
- The health and age of the spouses, and obligations to support and care for dependent children
- The earning capacity of the spouse who seeks alimony in light of all other circumstances
- Tax consequences
- Other circumstances that the court deems relevant
In the United States, alimony is treated differently tax wise from child support payments. In Louisiana, alimony is deductible for the person who pays it and taxable income for the person who receives it under the rules of the Internal Revenue Service, while child support is not. This can make alimony a tax advantage for the person who pays it and has prompted the federal government to create “hurdle tests” to differentiate between alimony, child support, and property settlement.
In the past, most alimony awards were made to homemakers who needed the support from their former husbands. However, since current marriages often consist of two wage earners, and more men are assuming child-rearing duties alimony awards have changed. It is no longer unusual for an ex-wife to be compelled to make alimony payments to her ex-husband. For a comprehensive examination of family law in Louisiana, go to Louisiana Family Law Practice.