An Overview of Louisiana’s Spousal Support Laws

Recently the Louisiana Illuminator reported that the Republican party of Louisiana wants to recommend the repeal of no-fault divorces, arguing that no-fault divorces have weakened the institution of marriage and are contributing to widespread child poverty in Louisiana. 

No-fault divorces can be granted as outlined in La. Civ. Code art. 102, La. Civ. Code art. 103(1), and La. Civ. Code art. 103.1 to couples who must simply prove that they have been separated and have lived apart continuously for six months or one year, depending on whether minor children were involved. However, would this affect alimony laws if Republicans successfully eliminate no-fault divorces in Louisiana? To answer that question, the laws regarding alimony in Louisiana would have to be understood. 

Types of Alimony in Louisiana

Two types of spousal support are available in Louisiana, temporary and final. These types of spousal support are not granted automatically. Instead, a spouse must request spousal support, and the judge determines whether and how much spousal support should be given.

Interim or Temporary Alimony

As soon as divorce proceedings start, a spouse can ask for interim spousal support to help support reasonable needs, especially if unemployed or working part-time. Temporary spousal support can also be requested to help pay outstanding medical bills or community debt. In addition, if one spouse has taken the community assets away from another, this is one more cause to seek interim alimony.

Final or Permanent Periodic Alimony

This type of alimony is the final support order that will determine how much one spouse will pay to the other and for how long after the divorce is final. There are several factors that the judge considers when considering a final spousal support order.

Factors Used to Determine Spousal Support Amounts

When requesting interim alimony, a judge considers the needs of the spouse that is requesting temporary spousal support, the other spouse’s ability to pay any amount or the amount requested, if there are any other interim or final child support obligations, and the level of the standard of living during the marriage.

Some factors when considering an interim support order are the same as when considering a final alimony order. However, other more complicated aspects are involved when determining the amount and duration of final support payments. La. Civ. Code art. 112 contains the guidelines of consideration, which include the following:

  • The earning capacity of both spouses
  • The effects of child custody on a spouse’s earning capacity
  • The time it will take for earning capacity to be increased with education, training, or employment
  • The health and age of both spouses
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The divorce is granted as an at-fault divorce, or domestic abuse was committed during the marriage
  • The tax repercussions that may occur

Tax Implications & Health Insurance Coverage 

It used to be that under 26 USC § 215, alimony payments were IRS deductible payments and reportable incomes for spouses that had spousal support orders granted before January 1, 2019. However, this code was repealed with the enactment of 2018, Pub. L. 115–97 sec. 11501, making alimony payments no longer deductible or reportable income for final periodic spousal support orders granted or modified in 2019 or later.

Spouses must also consider that they may be losing their health insurance coverage when divorce proceedings start. If one spouse is on the other spouse’s health plan, the loss of health insurance coverage should be of great concern and included in the request for spousal support. 

The spousal support request could be granted with medical insurance coverage payments or increased spousal support. Sometimes one spouse will be required to keep the other spouse on their employer-sponsored group health insurance plan for a set amount of time. 

How Long Does Alimony Last in Louisiana?

The time that alimony lasts depends on the type of alimony being addressed. Since interim spousal support is temporary, this will have a different duration than final periodic spousal support. Both can be terminated if support becomes unnecessary or circumstances have changed with either party. An example of a change in circumstances could include the party receiving the alimony getting remarried or cohabitating as if married. The death of either party will also end either of these types of support.

Interim Spousal Support

According to La. Civ. Code art. 113, an interim spousal support order will support a spouse through the divorce proceedings and terminate six months after the divorce decree is granted. However, exceptions can be made to extend the order beyond six months but with good reason. Nevertheless, the interim alimony’s duration makes it important to remember to ask for final support that will extend beyond the six months of temporary support.

Final Spousal Support

The duration of the marriage is considered when a judge determines how long the spousal support should continue to be paid. However, no law in Louisiana determines a standard that judges must follow when coming to that conclusion. Therefore, the judge’s discretion will differ on the ratio of how long alimony should be paid compared to how long the marriage lasted.  

Is Alimony Affected in an At-fault Divorce?

Spousal Support Law

If the Louisiana Republican lawmakers successfully eliminate the ability to obtain a no-fault divorce, alimony will be significantly impacted. La. Civ. Code art. 112 says that if a spouse has not been at fault before filing the divorce petition, they will be eligible for spousal support. That means the judge will not grant spousal support if only at-fault divorces can proceed and the spouse needing the support is at-fault.

According to La. Civ. Code art. 103(2), (3), (4), (5), at-fault divorces can be granted without a waiting period if one or both of the spouses has committed:

  • Adultery
  • A felony that has them sentenced to death or hard labor
  • Physical or sexual abuse towards the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses

The spouse that is accused of physical or sexual abuse does not have to be prosecuted for them to be taken into consideration that they are at fault. Another at-fault reason for divorce is if one spouse had an injunction or protective order against them after a hearing to protect the other spouse or a child of one of the spouses from abuse. One more aspect that can occur regarding alimony in at-fault divorces is that the spouse who is not the at-fault party will most certainly be entitled to final periodic support. 

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