Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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What are the criteria for an award of alimony in Louisiana?

One of the most important issues in a Louisiana dissolution is whether the court will require one spouse to pay support - usually called alimony - to the other spouse. The answer to the question depends upon a number of factors, most of which are spelled out in Louisiana statutes.

The one overriding criterion is the absolute disallowance of alimony to a spouse who is found to be at fault for the divorce. Fault can consist of infidelity, domestic abuse or other behavior that can lead to the end of a marriage. In the absence of spousal fault, the court will look at the parties' past financial condition and their individual financial situations at the time of the divorce.

The ability of each spouse to maintain the same standard of living that the couple enjoyed during the marriage is extremely important. If one spouse contributed to the couple's welfare early in the marriage, enabling the other spouse to acquire marketable skills, the supportive spouse is usually deemed to be entitled to share in the increased earning power of the other spouse after the marriage is dissolved.

The duration and stability of the marriage are other factors usually given great weight by the court. Also, the ability of a spouse to pay adequate support to the other spouse is an important factor. No judge will order an ex-spouse to make support payments that the person plainly cannot afford.

A person seeking support must remember that a divorce involves at least two types of alimony: temporary alimony paid while the divorce is proceeding and permanent alimony that is paid indefinitely. A court will usually make the duration of permanent alimony dependent upon one of several events: the re-marriage of the receiving spouse, the death of the payor spouse, a specified age or any other important event.

For couples who have significant assets and no pre-nuptial agreement, the determination of support can be very complex. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can offer helpful advice on how the specifics of a person's financial and social situation will affect the award of alimony.

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