Alimony is one of the most critical financial issues in a New Mexico divorce especially when one of the parties did not work much during the marriage. The sacrifices made by a spouse who primarily focuses on childcare and domestic responsibilities can result in a grossly unfair situation during a divorce. While one spouse may spend decades obtaining higher education, acquiring occupational experience and improving his or her earning potential, the other spouse may be left without the education, training and employment history necessary to afford anything close to the marital standard of living. While alimony is designed to adjust for these inequities, sometimes a party seeking alimony makes critical mistakes that can compromise his or her ability to become self-supporting and to maintain a standard of living that is reasonably consistent with that enjoyed by the parties during the marriage. We have highlighted some of these errors below:
• Negotiating Less Support than Needed: Many parties avoid retaining a New Mexico Divorce Lawyer and attempt to negotiate alimony without legal representation. Because many spouses seeking spousal support have no idea that they may have the right to pursue sufficient alimony to maintain the marital standard of living, they accept a settlement that is far below what they probably could have expected had the judge determined spousal support.
• Agreeing to a Premature Termination Date: If you have been in a long-term marriage, your age, education level and limited work experience may hinder your ability to obtain employment or earn an income that is remotely comparable to your spouse. It will be extremely difficult for a spouse in this situation to become self-supporting so courts often leave alimony indefinite in terms of duration. When you negotiate and accept a fixed termination date that is too soon, you may find that it is extremely difficult to modify this termination date if you are unable to sufficiently improve your earning ability prior to expiration of the agreed upon term of spousal support.
• Confusing Property Division with Alimony: While a judge will consider property division when determining what level of alimony is appropriate, this does not mean that the issues of asset division and alimony should be merged. A spouse has a right to a fair division of property which is acquired by the spouses during their economic partnership while married. Many parties who lack legal advice give up too much in terms of alimony because they think their spouse is making concessions on property that really represents nothing more than an equitable division of the property in which both spouses have an interest.
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 New Mexico alimony law, our experienced New Mexico Divorce Lawyers 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.