Alimony is a type of support that is provided to a spouse during a legal separation or divorce proceeding and after a divorce is finalized. It is intended to provide financial support for a spouse that is not able to support themselves as a result of the divorce.
Alimony payments are often made on a regular schedule, such as monthly. They are typically set for a period of time, which is determined by the court.
In New Mexico, when a married couple divorces, the court may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other spouse. Alimony is also referred to as spousal support in New Mexico law.
The amount of alimony a spouse will receive is determined by several factors which include the ability of the paying spouse to pay the specified amount of alimony to the receiving spouse. Alimony is intended to assist in covering the basic needs of the receiving spouse which may include things such as:
- Shelter; and
Alimony may also be ordered to allow the receiving spouse to maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to prior to the divorce. It may also be ordered to permit the receiving spouse time to become financially stable.
Typically, when the receiving spouse is able to financially support themselves, alimony payments are terminated. If alimony payments were ordered so that the receiving spouse would be able to maintain their standard of living, alimony payments may continue until they remarry.
There are five different types of alimony that may be available to a spouse pursuant to New Mexico law, including:
- Rehabilitative support, which is intended to support the receiving spouse while they are obtaining the education or training necessary to become financially independent;
- Transitional support, which is intended to be a temporary supplement in addition to the current income of the receiving spouse as they transition to supporting themselves;
Indefinite support, which is intended to support the receiving spouse for the rest of their life;
- A set amount of support that is to be paid out over a set period of time which cannot be terminated early under any circumstances, even if the receiving spouse passes away; and
- A set amount of support that is to be paid out at set intervals which can only be terminated early if the receiving spouse passes away.
How Can I Qualify for Alimony?
In New Mexico, courts typically only grant alimony to a spouse who can show that they have a financial need for the alimony. Therefore, in order to qualify for alimony, a spouse must be willing to show that it is actually needed.
This means that the spouse requesting alimony must have been financially dependent on their spouse during the marriage. Also, the lack of access to their spouse’s income following the divorce must significantly impact their economic status in a negative way.
Courts will also consider a number of other factors when determining whether or not to grant alimony as well as which type of alimony should be granted. The factors the court will consider include:
- Each spouse’s age and health;
- The means of support of each spouse;
- The current earning capacity of each spouse;
- Each spouse’s current and future income;
- The spouses’ standard of living during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s good faith efforts to keep a job or support themselves;
- The assets possessed by each spouse, including any property that was granted to each spouse during the division of property; and
- If there was an agreement that the spouses have entered into when considering their separation or divorce.
How Much Alimony Can I Receive?
The only limit to the amount of alimony a spouse may receive in New Mexico is that the amount is just and proper with respect to the circumstances surrounding the marriage and the divorce. The amount the receiving spouse may receive typically depends on the type of alimony which the court grants.
A receiving spouse may also receive alimony in the form of a lump sum or in the form of a piece of the paying spouse’s property. The court will determine how much alimony the receiving spouse will be granted and in what form it will be provided by considering the same factors that were considered when determining whether or not to grant alimony in general.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
The duration of alimony the receiving spouse is awarded will primarily depend upon the type of alimony that is granted. If the receiving spouse is awarded alimony which is intended to support them for the rest of their life, it will likely continue until they pass away.
However, if the alimony award is intended to keep the receiving spouse on their feet following a divorce, it will typically not last for a long time. In addition, if the alimony is awarded out of the paying spouse’s property or as a lump sum, then the receiving spouse will likely only receive a one time payment.
There are certain types of alimony that may terminate earlier than the termination date set by the court in the original alimony order. For example, if the receiving spouse is awarded transitional alimony and they pass away prior to the termination date, the alimony will terminate at that time and not on the court ordered date.
The court may also terminate alimony early if the circumstances surrounding that alimony changes. For example, if the receiving spouse obtains a job with higher income. This applies unless the original alimony order prohibits the termination of alimony early for that specific change in circumstances.
How Can I Petition for Alimony?
In order for a spouse to petition for alimony in New Mexico, they will need to complete and file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This partition contains a specific section which permits the spouse to declare their need for alimony.
Once the individual has filed this document, they will be required to serve the document on their spouse. They will also be required to prove to the court that they actually need the alimony.
A lawyer is invaluable when proving to a court that alimony is necessary because a lawyer is familiar with the type of evidence that the court will likely consider and to help ensure that the requesting spouse is not omitting anything that may be beneficial.
However, if the spouses agree on all of the matters that are covered by a divorce, the spouses can then fill out a Marital Settlement Agreement as well as the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. By filing these documents, the requesting spouse may avoid having to prove to the court that they need alimony because the agreement will permit the spouses to agree on an alimony amount as well as the amount and duration of alimony.
Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer?
It is essential to have the assistance of an experienced New Mexico family lawyer when requesting alimony in New Mexico. The divorce process can be difficult enough without the extra added stress of not having enough money to survive without your spouse.
A family lawyer can help you obtain the alimony that you deserve. Your lawyer can review your case, answer any questions that you may have regarding alimony in New Mexico, as well as represent you in court during any proceedings.