Making The Complex

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The ongoing debate about long-term spousal support

Arguments concerning alimony are nothing new, not in Louisiana or any other state in the nation. From time to time, a state will consider new legislation on spousal support, and the debate will flare up. One of the most contentious aspects of spousal support involves the length of payments. While some people feel that there are cases in which a former spouse is entitled to lifetime alimony, many others argue that there should be a limit to the length of time that one spouse is expected to provide financial support to the other.

In some states, the length of spousal support is limited to half the duration of the marriage. So, for unions that did not last for very long, any alimony payments would also be short-lived. That makes sense, as there would not be time in a short marriage for one spouse to become financially dependent on the other. In a longer marriage, say of 16 years, a period of spousal support that lasted for eight years would provide plenty of time for the dependent spouse to gain job training or rejoin the workforce.

Those who argue for lengthy spousal support payments point to the fact that circumstances could place the receiving spouse in dire need of financial assistance. If a former spouse were to fall ill while married, for example, he or she would definitely need financial help in the event of a divorce. But, what would happen if that spouse did not recover from the illness, and required lifetime support? Would that burden rightfully belong to the ex, or should the state step in and provide some form of assistance?

For those who try to determine balanced legislation on spousal support, these are just some of the issues that must be taken into consideration. This an area of law where there may be no one-size-fits-all answers, which can make it hard to move forward with legislative change. While some states are currently struggling with this sue, Louisiana residents may want to follow the matter.

Source:, “Contentious Divorce: Why Spousal Support Laws Need Changing“, April 17, 2017


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