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Interim and final spousal support in Louisiana divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Family Law

When a couple gets married, they pool their resources in order to pay for their needs. Under Louisiana law, almost everything acquired by either spouse during the marriage is owned jointly by both spouses. Even if one spouse has significantly less income than the other, they are able to enjoy a certain standard of living together.

If the couple decides to divorce, this changes quite suddenly. If one spouse earned much less than the other during the marriage, they can be left at a serious financial disadvantage. In a marriage where one spouse stayed home with children and the other spouse earned all the couple’s income, the stay-at-home spouse can be left in serious financial trouble.

Spousal support is meant to address this type of situation.

Also known as alimony, spousal support consists of payments from one ex-spouse to another. Under Louisiana law, there are two main types: interim and final spousal support.

Interim support

When a spouse files for divorce in Louisiana, they can submit a request for interim spousal support. The court can then order the other spouse to pay spousal support during the divorce process. The obligation to pay interim spousal support continues until 180 days after the divorce is finalized.

Final support

During the divorce process, one spouse can request an ongoing support obligation that will continue after the 180 days are up. This is known as final spousal support, but the name can be misleading. The obligation is not necessarily permanent, and it can be modified when necessary.

Generally, courts intend spousal support to be a way to help a financially disadvantaged spouse just until they can become financially independent. A court may limit the obligation to a certain number of years, or tie it to a certain event. For instance, if a spouse needs time to finish their education in order to secure appropriate employment, then the court may specify that the obligation should continue until shortly after the receiving spouse graduates.

In any case, the obligation ends when either spouse dies, or when the receiving spouse remarries. In some cases, the obligation may end when the receiving spouse begins cohabitating with a new partner in a way similar to a marriage.

How the court decides

When deciding whether to award final support, how much, and for how long, courts consider a list of factors, including:

  • The financial resources and obligations of both spouses
  • The earning potential of each spouse
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Any domestic violence in the marriage

A child support order can also affect a spousal support order.

How you decide

It’s important to note that the parties themselves can negotiate spousal support, rather than leaving the matter up to the court. The judge can then approve their agreement and make it legally enforceable.