One of the topics that must be addressed before a New Mexico court will grant you divorce is spousal support. Sometimes referred to as alimony, it is money that is paid by one former partner to another to help the recipient maintain his or her quality of life post-divorce.
During his many years in practice, Attorney Bob Matteucci has represented spouses who need alimony, and the ones from whom it is requested. In cases where he is serving as a neutral mediator, he works with both parties at the same time to negotiate an alimony agreement.
If a disagreement over alimony payments arises, Attorney Matteucci always attempts to resolve it amicably, without involving the courts. But he can and does litigate these cases when it is clear the needs of his client will not be met unless aggressive action is taken.
The Basics of Spousal Support in New Mexico
Spousal support is money that is paid by one former partner to another to help the recipient maintain his or her quality of life post-divorce.
It was created back in the days when women were not welcome in the workforce, did not own many assets, and had significant difficulty supporting themselves and their children following a divorce. Alimony payments empowered women to leave bad marriages and gave them the resources needed to start fresh and maintain their dignity.
Today, both men and women may seek spousal support payments from their former partners. The goal of these payments is still to protect people who might otherwise be trapped in an unhappy marriage, or be unable to support themselves post-divorce.
Spousal support is not paid in every divorce, but every former couple must consider whether it should be. If a divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement on spousal support, the judge in their case will step in and decide what sort of support payment, if any, is appropriate. The type and amount of spousal support available vary from couple to couple.
Under New Mexico law, spousal support payments are only available to formerly married individuals. Cohabitating partners are not entitled to spousal support payments.
Factors to Consider When Deciding If Alimony Is Appropriate
Most New Mexico couples that Attorney Bob Matteucci works with are able to negotiate a spousal support agreement that is appropriate in their unique situation. When a divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement, the judge in their case will step in.
In both situations, the following factors are helpful to consider. They can help a couple, or the court, figure out if spousal support is appropriate, and what form it should take.
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of the spouses
- The current and future earning abilities of the spouses
- How much time it would take to acquire job training or education to re-enter the workforce
- The ability of a spouse to work without interfering with childcare responsibilities
- The standard of living the spouses enjoyed during marriage
- The degree to which devotion to the domestic duties of marriage impaired a spouse’s career prospects
- Whether the spouse requesting alimony contributed to the other spouse’s career during the marriage
- The assets of both spouses
- The financial needs and responsibilities of both spouses
It is important to be honest and open when discussing these factors during a negotiation or in court.
Types of Spousal Support
As mentioned above, there are several types of spousal support in New Mexico:
- Transitional. This is money intended to supplement the income of the receiving partner for a limited amount of time. Usually awarded for a year or less, transitional spousal support helps the recipient get established in his or her post-divorce life.
- Rehabilitative. This form of spousal support helps the recipient get the education or job training he or she needs to be financially self-sufficient after the divorce. It is especially helpful if the spouse’s career was put on hold during the marriage.
- Modifiable. This is money awarded to a spouse for an indefinite period. In many cases, it is paid until the receiving party remarries or dies, as well as when the paying party dies. However, it may increase, decrease or stop entirely depending on retirements or material and substantial changes in circumstances, such as changes to either person’s income or financial assets.
- Non-modifiable. This is money awarded to a spouse in set monthly payments for a definite period of time. During the period of time that non-modifiable spousal support is paid, if there is a substantial or material change in circumstances, (remarriage, increase or decrease in income, etc.), the monthly amount paid and the set number of months paid remains the same.
- Lump sum paid all at once. This is a fixed amount of spousal support paid all at once. This type of agreement typically cannot be modified.
Whether you are the paying or receiving spouse, Attorney Bob Matteucci can explain your different options. He can also discuss ways you can use spousal support as something of a bargaining chip. Some people choose to take less alimony in exchange for a more advantageous division of the couple’s assets. Others would rather have the long-term security of support payments instead of assets.
In the end, your spousal support agreement will uniquely suit you and your former partner’s needs. You should not compare your agreement to the agreements struck by other couples since each couple’s relationship and life circumstances are different.
How long do I have to be married to qualify for spousal support?
The duration of the marriage is one of the factors couples and courts use to determine appropriate alimony payments. There is no minimum amount of time a spouse has to be married to be eligible for spousal support. However, the longer a couple is married, the more likely it is that one of the former partners will receive alimony.
How long does alimony last?
Alimony will typically end either upon the terms outlined in the court order or agreement between the spouses or upon the death or remarriage of the spouse receiving it. It may not automatically end when the paying spouse dies, and he or she may be required to carry life insurance to ensure this obligation is met even after death.
Are spousal support payments taxable?
The person responsible for paying spousal support must pay taxes on the money. The government does not consider payments received under an agreement taxable income.
Finding Middle Ground
Divorcing couples in New Mexico are encouraged to try and come to an agreement over spousal support on their own with the assistance of their attorneys. Judges do not like to wade into disagreements over alimony payments because bitter disputes can derail an entire divorce proceeding.
Fortunately, most couples understand that support payments are simply part of the deal if you want to finalize your divorce and move on with your separate lives. Keeping this in mind makes coming to an agreement much easier.
If you and your former partner already know how you want to handle spousal support, Attorney Bob Matteucci can help you draft a spousal support agreement as part of your Marital Settlement Agreement, and file it with the court.
If you need help coming to an agreement over alimony, mediation may be a good option. During mediation, which is confidential, both parties choose one attorney, who is a neutral party. The mediator helps you negotiate a fair settlement by facilitating open and honest conversation and highlighting the key areas of the agreement that you can build a solution on. Attorney Matteucci often serves as the mediator for couples who need help coming to an agreement on spousal support payments, and other important issues.
When an amicable agreement cannot be reached, Attorney Matteucci is prepared to go to court and advocate on your behalf.
Contact A New Mexico Spousal Support And Alimony Attorney Today!
Coming to an agreement on spousal support is an important part of the divorce process. The agreement you strike will be tailored to match your life circumstances, so it is critical that you hire an experienced family law attorney like Bob Matteucci who will work to understand your unique needs. Contact Bob today to discuss your concerns, and get answers to any questions you may have about alimony in New Mexico.
Matteucci Family Law Firm helps families with spousal support and alimony matters all across New Mexico including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Lunas, and Rio Rancho.