How to Amend My Alimony Judgment in Louisiana

By Jennifer Williams

Louisiana recognizes both temporary and permanent alimony, called spousal support in Louisiana. However, permanent support is only awarded to an innocent spouse -- one who is not at fault in the divorce. Once awarded in the final decree, support may be modified if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of one or both spouses. An innocent spouse may also ask the court to amend the final decree to add support where there originally was none, as long as she asks within three years after the final decree is issued.

Louisiana recognizes both temporary and permanent alimony, called spousal support in Louisiana. However, permanent support is only awarded to an innocent spouse -- one who is not at fault in the divorce. Once awarded in the final decree, support may be modified if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of one or both spouses. An innocent spouse may also ask the court to amend the final decree to add support where there originally was none, as long as she asks within three years after the final decree is issued.

Support in General

Temporary spousal support is awarded in Louisiana during the divorce proceedings, and ends when permanent support is either granted or denied in the final divorce decree. Support can only be granted to an innocent spouse. Louisiana courts consider several factors when calculating permanent support, including degree of need and the ability to pay. Other factors include age, health, income and earning capacity of the spouses, child custody, length of the marriage, existing financial obligations and tax consequences. An award must not exceed one third of the paying spouse's net income. If one spouse financially supported the other through school, or bypassed a career to stay at home and raise children, support is addressed as part of the marital property division rather than as an independent award. Spouses may decide support for themselves in a negotiated marital settlement agreement, and the court honors these agreements regardless of the fault of either spouse.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Modifications

Louisiana allows a spouse to ask for alimony even after the divorce decree is final, as long as he or she does it within the first three years. Existing support may be modified at any time if the receiving spouse can prove a substantial change in circumstances, such as increased financial need and/or increased ability to pay. Remarriage of the paying spouse does not count as a substantial change. Support terminates altogether when either spouse dies or when the receiving spouse remarries or is held by a judge to be living as if married with another individual of either sex.

Petition for Modification

A petition for modification of support must provide information about the children, the names of the spouses, their contact information and county of residence. The body of the petition must state that the petitioning spouse wants to modify existing support. It must also state the change in circumstances justifying a modification, such as increased expenses or reduction of income. The petition must present a street address for service of the answer by the other spouse and ask the court to grant the petition. The petition must be filed with the court that issued the final decree.

Additional Support

Addition of support requires a petition to amend the final decree. The petition must be filed with the court that issued the original decree and must state the names of the spouses, their contact information and county of residence. It must also state the filing spouse was not at fault in the divorce. The body of the petition must state that support is needed and why. A street address must be included for service of the other spouse's answer to the petition, and then request the court grant the petition.

Proof of Need

It is up to the petitioning spouse to prove to the court that the addition or modification is justified. For modification of existing support, proof of increased need or a decline in ability to pay may include copies of bills, tax returns, financial worksheets, pay stubs and bank statements that show a worsening financial situation. Proof of an increase in ability to pay often requires subpoenaing these same documents from the paying spouse plus any receipts from the sale of property or other assets. Louisiana courts decide whether to award support after the decree is final based on the same factors used in determining permanent support during the divorce. It is up to the petitioning spouse to prove need to the court. Proof can include the same financial documents used to prove need for modification, such as copies of bills, tax returns, pay stubs, financial worksheets and bank statements.

Service and Hearing

A petition to add or modify support must be served on the other spouse, after which he has 15 days in which to file an answer. If the answer disagrees with any statements in the petition, the district court assigns the case to a hearing officer who holds a hearing. At the hearing, the petitioning spouse presents evidence in support of her petition, and the other spouse usually tries to discredit that evidence with evidence of his own. The hearing officer writes a recommendation to the court on whether to grant or deny the petition. If either spouse disagrees with the decision of the hearing officer, another hearing is held before a district court judge, who decides whether to grant or deny the petition.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Petition for Alimony Modification

References

Related articles

Alimony Laws in Kansas

Alimony, also called spousal support, may be awarded during a divorce proceeding in Kansas. Alimony is paid by one spouse to the other when the receiving spouse has neither a sufficient income nor sufficient assets to be self-supporting when the marriage ends. The Kansas Revised Statutes set forth the types of alimony available, duration of payments and when alimony can be modified or terminated.

What Voids Alimony Payments in Nevada?

The state of Nevada recognizes two forms of alimony: lump sum and permanent. Lump sum alimony is a specific amount of money the court orders one spouse to pay to the other all at once or in payments over time. Permanent alimony is a monthly amount the court orders be paid upon entry of the final divorce decree. Under Nevada law, permanent alimony ends if either spouse dies or the receiving spouse remarries, unless the court orders otherwise. In certain other situations, however, alimony payments can be voided or at least modified.

How to Reduce or Even Eliminate Alimony

As the economy declines and jobs are cut across the country, many individuals who pay alimony to their former spouses are finding it harder and harder to meet their court-ordered obligations. In such cases, it may be time to seek a reduction in the amount owed, or even to eliminate the spousal support payments altogether. Most states will consider reduction or elimination of alimony based on a substantial change in the circumstances of one or both former spouses.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

I'm Married & My Spouse Moved out, so Can I Get Alimony Until the Divorce Is Final in Illinois?

In Illinois, either spouse may ask the court to award temporary alimony, called maintenance, during the divorce. ...

Virginia Law on Modification of Final Divorce Decrees

In Virginia, ex-spouses may modify spousal support, child support or custody if circumstances have changed since the ...

Can a Divorced Wife Sue for More Alimony?

Usually, although not always, alimony -- spousal support as it it called in some states -- must be awarded in the ...

How to Reopen a Child Support Case in South Carolina

As circumstances change over time, it may be necessary to reopen a child support case and modify the amount of the ...

Browse by category