5 Myths about Spousal Support and Alimony

The term “alimony” can seem like a charged concept these days.  Filing for spousal support can not only be contentious, there can seem like there are cultural and social implications for doing so. 

We want to debunk some of the myths surrounding spousal support in Louisiana.  While the application of spousal support has certainly changed since its inception, personalized legal representation is more important now than ever before, both for the plaintiff and the defendant. 

1.    Alimony is not relevant or needed in 2016

It’s a common misconception that alimony is only for disgruntled mid-century era type housewives whose husbands have always been the only breadwinners in the household.  The construct of marriage is such that, oftentimes, one partner sometimes must forgo some or all of their earning abilities for the sake of the household. 

Modern life is more hectic than ever.  With pressing work schedules, childcare, school obligations and involvement, and home maintenance, it’s pretty common for one person to shoulder more work and the other to shoulder more of the day-to-day errands and chores.  That person, inevitably, misses out on the work experience and resume building that they would have had without those obligations.  There are only so many hours in the day! 

Moreover, it’s possible that in Louisiana, the traditional application of alimony may actually still be more relevant than in the rest of the country.   A recent LSU study showed that in Louisiana, women made only 67 cents to the dollar that men earn (compared to the national wage gap of 79 cents to the dollar).    

2.    Alimony is one-size-fits-all; wives always get alimony from their husbands after divorce

Despite the wage gap still existing, the cultural landscape is a state of flux in Louisiana and across the United States as well.  More women than ever are the main or equal breadwinners in their families, both as single parents and as married women.  It’s becoming less of an oddity for husbands to be the main caretakers of the children and/or home than it used to be.  Additionally, the legalization of same-sex marriages makes it so that the idea of gender-specific opportunity is simply irrelevant when it comes to post-divorce proceedings.

The definition of marriage is not the same as it used to be.  Just as marriage is no longer the same for everyone, divorce proceedings and alimony awards are no longer the same for everyone.  Every person’s situation is completely unique and should always be treated as such.

3.    If you fight an alimony claim, you’re belligerent or selfish.

Every marriage and every divorce has its own unique set of circumstances.  Now more than ever, divorcees should watch out for their own assets as their ex-spouses might unfairly try to get more than they are actually entitled to.  Earning capacities are also considered by the courts in divorce proceedings in Louisiana; not just income.  Just because someone isn’t working doesn’t mean that they can’t or aren’t able to.

If you feel like someone is taking advantage of you, it’s probably best to speak to an attorney to work towards protecting the assets you have worked for. 

4.    If you file an alimony claim, you’re weak.

Nobody should ever feel embarrassed to take steps towards getting what they need to survive.  If you sacrificed time and energy towards maintaining a household over pursuing a career, or even didn’t work as much as you would have been able to because of your partnership, and the relationship dissolved due to no fault of your own, you may be entitled to spousal support.  When a person puts time and energy into supporting a partner’s ability to earn, that is not a sign of weakness, and as such, neither is filing for alimony.

5.    You should look for aggressiveness in your spousal support attorney.

Yes, it’s important for your attorney to be aggressive, but it’s not the most important quality your attorney should have.  Personalized representation, in 2016, is the most valuable asset you can have in any divorce proceeding.  Personalized representation means your attorney gives your case the attention it deserves, beginning to end.  It means that your attorney listens first, knowing that every single case is different.  Yes, of course it’s extremely important that your attorney is fiercely committed to your cause, and ardent and relentless in your defense.  While this is true, aggressiveness means nothing unless your attorney is educated, both in the law and in the circumstances surrounding your divorce.   

Jon G Bethune is an accomplished family law attorney, rated optimally by our clients because we understand that every divorce and family law case is unique.  Call us at (504)218-8570 or click here to send us a brief message about your spousal support case, or any other family law matter, so that we can help you take your first step towards your future.