The role of spousal support in a divorce is often misunderstood. Also known as alimony, spousal support is decided later in divorce proceedings, after division of the couple's assets are decided. Once this is done, the need for a spouse to receive or pay support can be determined and calculated. It is awarded to restrict any inequitable economic impact to the lower or non-wage-earning spouse by providing that spouse with ongoing income.
Louisiana law governs spousal support. It is generally based upon the need of the recipient spouse, the payer's ability to pay it, the marriage length, the couple's lifestyle when they were married and the spouses' age and health. Courts may consider non-martial assets and the involvement of minor children.
Sometimes, rehabilitative maintenance may be awarded when calculating this support. This provides temporary financial help to a spouse until they become financially independent. It gives the opportunity to return to school or receive job training to become employed. Spousal support may be modified, unlike property division, after the court reaches its decision. Modification may be granted if either spouse's financial circumstances drastically change. Some couples, however, may seek non-modifiable support to avoid disruption, because seeking modification may cost time and money.
Spousal support usually has a termination date. However, in addition to drastically changed financial circumstances, it may end earlier if either spouse dies or the recipient spouse remarries. Taking out a life insurance policy can help assure that support continues after the payor spouse dies. There are no guarantees that the payor spouse will comply with support orders. In addition to taking out life insurance, the payor spouse can agree to have disability insurance to continue payments if the spouse is unable to work. Purchasing an annuity to fund monthly spousal support payments can help assure that monthly payments are timely made.