New Orleans Alimony Lawyer | Jefferson Parish Spousal Support Lawyer
Spousal support, also called alimony, may be an issue in your divorce case. Our spousal support lawyer at Stephen Rue & Associates Law Firm can apply the alimony laws to benefit your individual situation.
Stephen Rue twice has been voted the “BEST DIVORCE LAWYER” in New Orleans by Gambit weekly Readers Poll (2002 and 2003). In 2012, Stephen Rue was voted “BEST ATTORNEY” by Gambit weekly’s Best of New Orleans Readers Poll.
Stephen Rue also is the author of three books on Louisiana Family Law, Divorce, Custody, Visitation Child Relocation and related matters including the Louisiana Best Selling “LOUISIANA FAMILY LAW GUIDE.” (Found at Amazon.com) Rue has litigated over 2,000 divorces and family law cases, with hundreds of spousal support cases throughout the Greater New Orleans Area (All Surrounding Parishes!)
Types Of Spousal Support
The court may award two different classifications of spousal support: interim periodic support and final periodic support. The court may award a party an interim periodic allowance based on the needs of that party, the ability of the other party to pay, and the standard of living of the parties during the marriage. Interim periodic spousal support terminates on the judgment of divorce. However, if a claim for final spousal support is pending when the divorce is rendered, interim spousal support thereafter terminates upon rendition of the judgment awarding or denying final spousal support or 180 days from the judgment of divorce, whichever occurs first.
Final periodic spousal support is harder to get. The court must consider the following factors in determining the entitlement, amount, and duration of final support:
- Needs of the parties
- Income and means of the parties
- Financial obligations of the parties
- Earning capacity of the parties
- Effect of custody of the children on a party’s earning capacity
- Time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment
- Health and age of the parties
- Duration of the marriage
- Tax consequences
An additional, very important condition for an award of final support is the claimant’s freedom of fault prior to filing divorce proceedings by either party. The court interprets “fault” to mean misconduct that rises to the level of one of the previously existing fault grounds for legal separation or divorce: adultery, conviction of a felony, habitual intemperance, cruel treatment or excesses that make living together insupportable, public defamation, abandonment, and intentional non-support.
Contact an Experienced Louisiana Spousal Support Lawyer Today
At Stephen Rue & Associates Law Firm, we offer consultations so you can discuss your spousal support/alimony case with one of our experienced attorneys.
Whether you are the spouse seeking spousal support or the spouse that is expected to pay alimony, our firm can assess your case and ensure that you are treated fairly by the court. We also represent clients in modification and/or enforcement of alimony orders.
The following is an excerpt from Louisiana Divorce Handbook (Available on Amazon.com), with Express Permission of Author Louisiana Family Law Attorney Stephen Rue. @ All Rights Reserved, Stephen Rue 2014.
1. WHAT IS SPOUSAL SUPPORT?
Spousal support, also known as “alimony” or “maintenance,” is a payment from one spouse (the “breadwinner”) to the other spouse who earns less income. The purpose of alimony is to allow the spouse of less means and/or abilities to pay for his or her living expenses and other needs. Permanent alimony may last the extent of the recipient’s life. The underlying rationale for alimony is to assist the spouse of less fortune, opportunities, and/or abilities.
“Rehabilitative” or “Restitution” alimony is for a definitive period of time, with the goals of having the other spouse create sufficient finances, opportunities, and/or abilities to be self-sufficient. The reason for the need of “rehabilitation” may result from the recipient spouse’s previous foregoing of educational and/or employment opportunities during the marriage that he or she would have reasonably expected to otherwise have experienced. Unlike child support, alimony is not calculated by using state guidelines, but rather the figure is derived by the agreement of the parties or at the discretion of the judge.
2. SPOUSAL SUPPORT IS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
Throughout the country, we are seeing a shift in the view of courts towards permanent alimony. With an increasing number of women entering the work force, and the decreasing focus on gender, many states are moving away from the term “alimony” to the term “maintenance.” The seemingly subtle shift in the use of terms is an example of the growing paradigmatic shift of today’s courts. As a public policy, Texas has had no provisions for alimony (although it may in the near future). Other state courts are becoming more resistant to awarding alimony, except in cases where a spouse has been and remains financially dependent on the other spouse for a
Louisiana classifies spousal support into two categories:
1. Interim Periodic Support
2. Final Periodic Support
LA-C.C. Art. 111 Spousal support; authority of court
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 free from fault prior to the filing of a proceeding to terminate the marriage, based on the needs of that party and the ability of the other party to pay, in accordance with the following Articles.
Alimony may be classified by the time period in which it is to be paid.
3. INTERIM SPOUSAL SUPPORT
LA-C.C. Art. 113 Interim spousal support allowance pending final spousal support award
Upon motion of a party or when a demand for final spousal support is pending, the court may award a party interim spousal support allowance based on the needs of that party, the ability of the other party to pay, 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 awarding or denying final spousal support or one hundred eighty days from the rendition of judgment of divorce, whichever occurs first. The obligation to pay interim spousal support may extend beyond one hundred eighty days from the rendition of judgment of divorce, but only for good cause shown.
Pre-divorce alimony, commonly called interim spousal support is alimony established for the period of time from the date of filing a pleading asking for such relief, until the date of the divorce. Some states provide exceptions that permit the obligation of “temporary” alimony to extend beyond the date of the divorce. An extension in “temporary” alimony is most common where “permanent” spousal support also is requested by a spouse and the court has not been able to have the trial regarding the issue of permanent spousal support.
Although states vary in the application of factors that are used to determine whether and to what extent temporary alimony should be paid, generally, the courts will look at both parties’ prior standard of living. Fault for the break up of the marriage, as well as each spouse’s assets, are either not considered or given less consideration during the evaluation and calculations made for temporary spousal maintenance.
4. FINAL PERIODIC SPOUSAL SUPPORT
LA-C.C. Art. 112. Determination of final periodic support
A. The court must consider all relevant factors in determining the entitlement, amount, and duration of final support. Those factors may include:
(1) The needs of the parties.
(2) The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such means.
(3) The financial obligations of the parties.
(4) The earning capacity of the parties.
(5) The effect of custody of children upon a party’s earning capacity.
(6) The time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment.
(7) The health and age of the parties.
(8) The duration of the marriage.
(9) The tax consequences to either or both parties.
B. The sum awarded under this Article shall not exceed one-third of the obligor’s net income.
Final periodic spousal support is financial support of a spouse after the termination of the marriage. Like temporary spousal support, states vary on the factors used in addressing such support. In order to determine whether “permanent” spousal support is appropriate, and to what degree and duration, if any, that it should be paid, the court weighs the relative positions of each party.
5. WHEN CAN PERIODIC SPOUSAL SUPPORT BE MODIFIED OR TERMINATED?
LA- C.C. Art. 114. Modification or termination of award of periodic support
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 circumstance.
lengthy period of time.
A divorce usually terminates an ex’s right to be covered under the former spouse’s employer’s medical insurance plan (unless each spouse works for the same employer and is covered under the same insurance plan.) Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), upon request, a non-employee former spouse can receive continued insurance coverage with the same insurance carrier for up to three years. This helps to eliminate the immediate post-divorce concerns of a potential lapse in medical insurance coverage. The insurance company (insurance agent) should be immediately notified of your desire to exercise your COBRA rights.
7. WATCH OUT FOR MANIPULATION OF INCOME AND EXPENSES FOR PURPOSES OF AFFECTING SPOUSAL SUPPORT AWARD
A manipulation of events can occur that directly affects the alimony award.
A spouse may attempt the following:
1. Control, possess, and/or hide assets
2. Decrease his income/earning capacity, while seeking to increase spouse’s income/earnings capacity
3. Increase his expenses (allowing less disposable funds to be available to spouse); while decreasing spouse’s expenses (thereby decreasing her “need” for alimony)
4. Attempt to withhold funds from spouse to a point where the spouse is under financial duress and is more likely to concede to a less favorable alimony award
In order to affect the numbers used in the calculation of alimony, a spouse may attempt to:
1. Change his standard of living
2. Postpone salary increases
3. Delay bonuses
4. Encourage the other spouse to get a job or change jobs
5. Reduce the number of hours worked
6. Reduce the overtime hours worked
7. Increase or decrease expenses
8. Fail to report actual income earned in tax returns
9. Put assets/income in someone else’s name
10. Become “disabled”
11. Shelter money in corporations, partnerships, or trusts
12. Have personal expenses paid through family business
13. Get reimbursed on the side by employer for expenses (i.e., auto expense, meals, travel, etc.) and
14. Make misrepresentations to the court about his income or expenses
(The same acts can occur in an attempt to manipulate a child support award.)
Prior to or during the divorce process, a “breadwinning” spouse may encourage the other “spouse” to do the following:
1. Seek employment and/or training
2. Increase hours worked
3. Seek higher pay
4. Seek a second job
5. Decrease expenses and/or
6. Sign a consent agreement to waive alimony or to accept a less favorable spousal support award
8. KNOW THE TAX CONSEQUENCES
AND REQUIREMENTS OF SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Alimony creates a tax deduction for The Internal Revenue Service considers alimony completely different from its treatment of child support. The payment of child support is neither deductible nor treated as income to either the payer or the recipient. For an extensive discussion of the tax consequences and requirements of alimony refer to the Tax Chapter of this guide.
9. BE WARY OF RECONCILIATION
As previously noted, reconciliation may defeat prior grounds of fault. Be wary of your spouse’s attempts to reconcile for the sole purpose of eliminating a crucial consideration used in the determination of spousal support.
10. WATCH OUT FOR “SPOUSAL SUPPORT BLACKMAIL”
Unfortunately and frequently, a spouse threatens a custody battle unless the other spouse concedes to waiving alimony or receiving a lower alimony and/or child support award. Report any such threats to your attorney. Any evidence of these threats should be tendered to your lawyer.
11. GET OR ENCOURAGE EDUCATIONAL
AND VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION
Although often used to lessen an alimony award, educational and/or vocational training and rehabilitation can have a long term benefit to both spouses. The spouse paying alimony may receive the benefit of having the payment period shortened or terminated and the spouse receiving alimony will achieve a point of rehabilitation to allow him to become financially independent.
Vocational experts can assist in the evaluation and placement of training and/or employment in the job market.
12. SEEK REIMBURSEMENT FOR OTHER SPOUSE’S EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND/OR INCREASED EARNINGS CAPACITY
Many states allow a financial award, generally considered separate and apart from an award of alimony or of a property division, that permits a spouse to receive money for her contribution to the other spouse’s education, training, and/or increased earnings capacity that was not realized and benefited from during the marriage. See your attorney for more details. This award is found in cases such as where a spouse has put the other through medical or law school and was divorced soon after the degree was earned.
LA-C.C. Art. 121 Claim for contributions to education or training; authority of court
In a proceeding for divorce or thereafter, the court may award a party a sum for his financial contributions made during the marriage to education or training of his spouse that increased the spouse’s earning power, to the extent that the claimant did not benefit during the marriage from the increased earning power.
The sum awarded may be in addition to a sum for support and to property received in the partition of community property.
The above is an excerpt from Louisiana Divorce Handbook (Available on Amazon.com), with Express Permission of Author Louisiana Family Law Attorney Stephen Rue. @ All Rights Reserved, Stephen Rue 2014.