Interim spousal support can be crucial for a spouse to get back on their feet during and after a family break up. Courts in Louisiana are very reluctant to award final spousal support and so there is a window wherein spouses who have primarily supported their families may focus their energies on improving themselves such that they will be able to provide for their family. It should be noted that interim spousal support generally lasts about eighteen (18) months but this is sometimes shortened with the help of a divorce attorney but rarely lengthened.
The theory of interim spousal support is what a divorce attorney is most likely familiar with. And this is that this payment is to maintain a spouse in the standard of living that they were accustomed to during the marriage.
The law and facts, however, are what a client and divorce attorney will attempt to present in order to ensure that the spouses are being fair to each other. Louisiana law states that a party may seek interim spousal support by examining the needs of the claimant spouse and the payor spouse’s ability to pay. While this may be simple, it raises a number of questions.
Firstly, does this mean that the claimant spouse must get a job? The Louisiana Supreme Court gave some direction to a claimant and their divorce attorney on this issue in 2007 in the Kirkpatrick v. Kirkpatrick case and held, in less blunt language, to simply use common sense. The case found that while there are certain situations where a spouse is readily employable and capable of fulfilling all or part of their ‘need. ’ But, the court specifically noted that it was not willing to define what these circumstances are that a spouse is required to work and leaves this to the trial court to find. Ultimately, this means that courts have a lot free reign to figure out how to limit interim spousal support if they so choose based upon a case’s facts.
Secondly, what does income mean? Is it gross or net income and how do assets of a spouse factor in? Unlike child support, a divorce attorney is generally looking for the entire financial picture of the payor spouse. This means that assets as well as debts are factored in, as well as the spouse’s ability to earn an income to pay – in other words, simply quitting one’s job to avoid paying spousal support likely will be ineffective. Assets are generally viewed in their ease of liquidity.
Does this mean that you or your spouse will get (or have to pay) interim spousal support in Louisiana? Remember, the court has a great deal of discretion in this award – in fact, it does not even have to award it at if it so chooses. While courts are usually fairly reluctant to grant large awards, they still are focused on resolving the family dispute with what is fair.
Will Beaumont is a lawyer in New Orleans. This article is strictly informational and not legal advice.
Interim spousal support can be crucial for your family. There are many good attorneys in the New Orleans area. When looking, contact New Orleans divorce attorney Will Beaumont for more information.