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What’s the Difference Between Alimony vs Spousal Support?

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Alimony, which is also known as spousal support, is a common part of divorce agreements and contrary to popular belief, it is applicable to both husbands and wives. In other words, both the husband and the wife can be required to pay spousal support. Courts have ruled that both the husband and wife have the right to receive alimony or spousal support.

However, the amount of alimony can differ from case by case. Alimony is usually paid by the spouse who earns more money than the other. Upon the dissolution of a marriage, the alimony payments can be used by the recipient spouse to cover living expenses such as a mortgage, rent, a car note, groceries, or other expenses.

Are Alimony and Spousal Support Different?

The answer to this question is no. Both terms are synonymous, referring to the same thing. Alimony is simply a more dated legal term. It was used primarily in the late 20th century when divorce rates were rising in the US. Historically, in cases of divorce, both the law and social convention dictated that men provide financial support to the women. In current times, women have had more career success than before and can often be the primary wage earners in a household.

To reflect this, spousal support, which is considered a more gender-neutral term, has become the new norm. However, spousal support is defined differently depending on the local laws. In Louisiana, the judge can award interim spousal support as well as final spousal support. In a divorce proceeding, the judge can award interim periodic support to a party or may award final periodic support to a party who is in need of financial support and who is free from fault prior to the filing of a proceeding to terminate the marriage.

The judge may award spousal support to a spouse who has not been at fault prior to the filing of a petition for divorce and who is in need of spousal support, based on the needs of that party and the ability of the other party to pay. Factors that may be considered by the judge include:

  1. The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such means.

  2. The financial obligations of the parties, including any interim allowance or final child support obligation.

  3. The earning capacity of the parties.

  4. The effect of custody of children upon a party's earning capacity.

  5. The time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment.

  6. The health and age of the parties.

  7. The duration of the marriage.

  8. The tax consequences to either or both parties.

  9. The existence, effect, and duration of any act of domestic abuse committed by the other spouse upon the claimant or a child of one of the spouses, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the act of domestic violence.

In Louisiana, fault of a spouse (such as when a spouse commits adultery) may prevent that spouse from getting spousal support from the other spouse. For this to happen, the judge must find that the cheating spouse committed adultery.

What Are the Types of Spousal Support?

There are two types of spousal support in Louisiana: interim periodic support and final periodic support.

Interim Spousal Support

This type of alimony or spousal support is paid to the recipient spouse while the divorce is pending. The payment of interim spousal support terminates when the divorce decree is granted or 180 days after the court terminates the marriage, whichever comes first.

Final Periodic Spousal Support

This type of spousal support ends when it become unnecessary, when the recipient spouse remarries, when the paying spouse dies, or when the circumstances of either spouse have changed in a significant way. Each case is different. So check with your attorney for more information about these issues.


In effect, alimony and spousal support are the same thing. Calculating a spousal support

agreement can take time and resources, depending on the complexity of the case. As

mentioned above, there are various factors to consider in such cases.

If someone is seeking spousal support, they should hire a lawyer. Lawyers will provide critical mediation and legal strategies, which may help one attain their spousal support goals. Regardless of whether one will be receiving or giving spousal support, lawyers are an excellent resource.

Our firm

Here at the Law Office of Gaynell Williams LLC, we have experienced lawyers who have dealt with all kinds of divorce and family law cases including cases dealing with spousal support and alimony issues. If you are doubtful or have any queries, call us to make a free appointment, and we will make sure to answer all your questions. With the experience of over 30 years dealing with divorce and family law cases, we know how to develop effective communication and deep understanding of your case, and will try to help you in any possible way we can.


Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule.

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