Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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Calculating spousal support

Issues accompanying the end of a marriage in Louisiana may be more complex than others. For example, child support relies on guidelines that are based on the child's financial needs. But, other divorce legal issues, such as spousal support, may be more complicated and nebulous, making it easier for emotions to drive decision-making.

It is unlikely that alimony would be awarded to a spouse only after a few years of marriage, especially if the spouses earn similar income. A prenuptial agreement, however, could govern this support regardless of the length of the marriage.

Additionally, a court may require payment of job retraining costs if a spouse quit working once they were married. This rehabilitative alimony may be ordered even in a very short marriage, especially if the recipient spouse left a very competitive occupation or profession.

A stay-at-home-spouse's income in a short marriage may also be calculated based on a minimum wage job at 40 hours per week. A court may adjust these calculations when a couple have very young children because this may have prevented a parent's return to the workforce.

Requests for spousal support are more seriously considered, in general, if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. States usually follow a formula for determining the length of spousal support based on the length of the marriage.

Changing income also plays a role. For example, construction contractors have income based on changing market conditions. A court will usually use a 5-year average to calculate income and support payments.

Gaming the spousal support system is prohibited. For example, a paying spouse cannot quit their job, move back home with their parents and claim zero income. Nor, they cannot retire at a young age and ask the court to reconsider their payments. A paying spouse, however, can seek payment modification if their financial circumstances change such as job loss or a drop in business.

A spouse may also negotiate payments other than monthly checks. A spouse could offer to purchase the other spouse's share of a major asset such as their family home or vehicle.

A spouse considering divorce should seek legal representation to advise them on their rights and options. An attorney can help seek a fair and reasonable divorce decree.

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