The process of determining alimony in a New Mexico divorce is one of the most complex and important issues faced by the parties to a marital dissolution. While there are many factors that a family law judge will consider when evaluating an alimony award, there are no clear guidelines for judges in terms of the particular emphasis to put on any one factor. Predictably, this lack of statutory guidelines often leads to alimony awards that differ radically between courts and even in similar types of cases in front of the same judge. If you are not represented by a family law attorney, this discretion exercised by a judge can make it appear that alimony awards are essentially random and arbitrary. However, the reality is that effective advocacy can have a significant impact on orders involving spousal maintenance. Our New Mexico Alimony Attorneys have provided a few examples of ways that we influence the outcome in cases involving alimony.
Careful Gathering of Relevant Evidence
The divorce process can be frustrating because your divorce lawyer may repeatedly ask for additional financial records only to request yet more documents based on what you have already provided. Parties to a divorce often become frustrated in trying to collect and provide all of this financial information because it may be buried in a basement, attic, or storage facility. Despite the inconvenience, parties experience significant benefits by providing this financial information.
While a comprehensive itemization of the many factors a judge will consider when awarding alimony is beyond the scope of this blog, they focus on such issues as the ability to pay of the obligated spouse, financial needs of the supported spouse, and the marital standard of living. The financial information and documents requested by your attorney provide the basis for making a compelling argument on these issues and may also expose inconsistencies in the information provided by your spouse. These inconsistencies may guide the discovery process where your attorney can request additional information or documents from your spouse to expose undisclosed assets or income.
Proving an Affluent Standard of Living
In theory, alimony is intended to permit a lower earning spouse to continue to enjoy the marital standard of living following a divorce. As a practical matter, this goal may be more aspirational than actual because the same amount of income must now play a role in funding dual households. However, the more evidence effectively presented illustrating expensive vacations, luxury goods, private school, and other trappings of an affluent lifestyle the more likely it is that the judge will order a more substantial alimony award.
Discovery Process Especially for Businesses
Many spouses are aware that their marital partner does not disclose every penny of income generated by a business to the IRS. The discovery process is important for uncovering undisclosed income or assets especially when one of the parties operates a business. A closely held business often provides ample opportunities to hide income, so it is important to look beyond the profit and loss statements and tax returns to ensure that an alimony award is not distorted because of an inaccurate perception of a spouse’s actual income from all sources.
The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.
If you have questions about alimony, our experienced New Mexico Divorce Attorneys may be able to help. Jay Goodman & Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your situation and answer your questions. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights and options.