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New Mexico Alimony

In New Mexico, when alimony and interim maintenance are awarded, the burden is on the spouse seeking the support to show need. Typically a couple must be married for at least ten years before the court considers alimony. Partners cohabitating but not legally married are not eligible for alimony in New Mexico. Temporary alimony - payments made by one spouse to the other when the couple is separated but still married - can also be awarded.

Furthermore, the party asking for alimony must prove the need for a specific dollar amount each month to maintain a reasonable standard of living and the other spouse's ability to pay that amount.

Either spouse may request alimony.

The duration of spousal support depends on the length of the marriage, and all other circumstances of the parties at divorce. The court determines the duration of any support payments.

Courts are reluctant to award the traditional form of long-term alimony, which is payable until the receiving spouse dies or remarries because judges want to see the parties move on with their lives after the divorce and become financially self-sufficient.

Alimony is either modifiable or non-modifiable. Unless the final decree states that the terms and conditions of alimony are non-modifiable, the recipient can argue for an increase if his/her needs change so much so that the present alimony amount is insufficient. Conversely, if the paying spouse's income situation changes (due to loss of employment or taking early retirement, for example), then the paying spouse may seek a reduction.

Interim spousal maintenance - temporary alimony - can be provided during the divorce action. Temporary alimony may or may not lead to permanent maintenance. The amount awarded, if any, is up to the courts but it is usually related to the needs of the children and the needs of the spouses until a final settlement is reached.

Types of Alimony

Long-term alimony is usually reserved for cases of lengthy marriages and where one spouse mostly took care of the home and children, has limited education or employment skills, and when there will likely always be a significant disparity in incomes.

Transitional alimony is usually for 6 - 24 months and helps the receiving spouse get established and start working.

Rehabilitative alimony helps the recipient going to school to earn a degree or a skill that will lead to a decent-paying occupation.

Factors Considered by the Court

The New Mexico courts have discretion in awarding alimony. According to New Mexico Statutes - Article 4 - Sections: 40-4-7, in awarding alimony, the court considers:

  • the age and medical condition of each spouse;
  • the current and future income and earning capacity of each spouse;
  • the ability of the receiving spouse to be self-supporting;
  • the reasonable needs of the respective spouses, including:
    • the standard of living of the spouses while married;
    • the maintenance of medical insurance for the respective spouses; and
    • the appropriateness of life insurance, including its availability and cost, insuring the life of the person who is to pay support to secure the payments, with any life insurance proceeds paid on the death of the paying spouse to be in lieu of further support;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the property award;
  • the type and nature of the respective spouses’ assets; provided that potential proceeds from the sale of property by either spouse shall not be considered by the court, unless required by exceptional circumstances and the need to be fair to the parties;
  • the type and nature of the respective spouses’ liabilities;
  • income-producing assets;
  • mutual agreements between the spouses.

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