Divorcing spouses have to resolve all marital financial matters between them. One such issue that has to be dealt with is spousal support, also known as alimony. Unlike child support, there is no alimony calculator. And courts are given ample discretion as to whether to award spousal support at all. Understanding how alimony works is important, regardless of which side of the divorce case you’re on.
That’s where Matteucci Family Law comes in. Attorney Bob Matteucci represents both the spouses who need alimony and the ones from whom it is requested. When you retain Bob, he utilizes his experience with New Mexico family law matters to work for you.
The Basics of Spousal Support in New Mexico
Spousal support is money paid to a spouse to help that person maintain a reasonable standard of living after the divorce. It is only available to married individuals; couples who cohabitate with each other are not eligible.
There’s no guarantee a divorcing spouse will be awarded alimony. The burden is on the spouse requesting alimony to convince the judge to award it. Family courts will consider the extent to which the spouse needs the support to meet his or her financial obligations. At the same time, the judge will examine the ability of the other spouse to pay monthly alimony.
Factors the Courts Use to Determine Alimony Awards
There are several criteria courts look at to decide whether to award monthly alimony. They include the following:
- 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
These factors will guide the court as to whether to award spousal support and in what amount. Attorneys for the spouses may need to emphasize or play down the importance of each one, depending on which side of the case they are on.
Types of Spousal Support
Again, considering the above factors, the court will determine – if it awards alimony – what form it will take. There are several types in New Mexico:
- Transitional. This is money intended to supplement the income of the spouse for a limited amount of time. Usually awarded for a year or less, transitional spousal support helps the spouse get established in his or her post-divorce life.
- Rehabilitative. This form of spousal support helps the spouse get the education or job training he or he 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.
- Permanent. This is money awarded to a spouse for an indefinite period. It is modifiable, but will typically continue until the receiving spouse either remarries or dies. However, it may also increase or decrease depending on retirements or material and substantial circumstances such as changes to a party’s income or financial assets.
- Lump sum. This is a fixed amount of spousal support. Often paid monthly, it is set in an amount and duration that cannot be modified.
How long do I have to be married to have spousal support?
The duration of the marriage is one of the factors courts use to determine alimony. There is no minimum amount of time a spouse has to be married to be eligible for spousal support. Generally speaking, however, the longer a spouse is married, the more likely it is he or she will receive alimony.
When does alimony end?
Alimony will 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 (except for lump sum or non-modifiable support). It does 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.
Alimony and Taxes
At one time, spousal support was considered taxable income for the receiving spouse and was deductible from the paying spouse’s taxes. That all changed with the recent revisions to the tax laws. For all alimony agreements or court orders entered after December 31, 2018, spousal support is no longer taxable to the receiving spouse or tax-deductible for the paying spouse.
Preparing for Your Alimony Case
Spouses are encouraged to try to settle spousal support on their own, and there are several ways to do this. Mediation is perhaps the most efficient method. During mediation, which is confidential, both parties retain one attorney, who is a neutral party, that helps the former spouses negotiate a fair settlement. This attorney can also file the appropriate paperwork for the parties.
Some spouses wish to negotiate less alimony in favor of a more advantageous asset division. Paying spouses may opt for this so they can be free of the monthly alimony obligation much sooner. No matter if you are the paying or receiving spouse, your lawyer will weigh spousal support and asset division in light of your particular needs.
If the parties already agree on how to handle spousal support, they can enter into a Marital Settlement Agreement as part of an uncontested divorce. This agreement will set forth the amount and duration of spousal support. Careful drafting of the agreement, with the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney, is essential to ensuring both parties fully understand their legal rights and obligations.
Contact a New Mexico Spousal Support And Alimony Attorney Today
Alimony is complicated and varies wildly from one case to another. With so much at stake, you need a dedicated and skilled family law attorney by your side. Count on Matteucci Family Law. Contact Bob to learn more about how he can serve you.
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.