When spouses separate in anticipation of a divorce, there is frequently a significant difference in the income and earning capacity of each spouse. If one of the spouses was the primary wage earner, the spouse who assumed the principle responsibility for taking care of the kids and family home may depend on alimony (aka “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance”) as a means of income to afford basic expenses.
The amount and duration of alimony often is a hotly contested issue because it can drastically impact the financial well-being of both parties. For the spouse ordered to pay a high monthly payment, the spousal support obligation may adversely impact the paying party’s standard of living and financial capability to adequately support a new family. When the duration of a spousal maintenance order is many years, it may impact the obligated spouse’s plans for retirement. Obviously, both the amount and duration of alimony can have a profound effect on the standard of living and financial security of the spouse receiving payments. Our Family Lawyers in Santa Fe have provided some important facts about spousal support:
What are the basic requirements that must be present for a judge to award alimony in a Santa Fe Divorce?
The primary requirements that must be met to justify an award include the financial need of the recipient spouse, a marriage of sufficient duration and the financial ability of the obligated spouse to pay.
How long must a marriage last for the court to award spousal support?
There is no minimum length of marriage requirement for a judge to award alimony in New Mexico. However, marriages of five years or less have a lower probability of receiving alimony though transitional alimony may be awarded depending on the specific facts. If a marriage is between 5-10 years in duration there is a higher probability that the court will award alimony. Marriages that are between 10-20 years are likely to result in an alimony award. The judge may award permanent alimony if the marriage is more than twenty years in duration. It is important to keep in mind that the party from whom alimony is being sought must have sufficient income and assets to pay alimony for a judge to impose this financial obligation.
What specific factors are considered by a Santa Fe judge when imposing a financial obligation to pay alimony?
There are many factors that the judge is supposed to consider when determining the amount and duration of alimony which include the following:
• Income, earning history and earning capacity of each marital partner
• Reasonable needs of each party
• Debts of each spouse
• Assets of each spouse
• Respective age and health of each spouse
• Good faith efforts to become self-supporting
• Marital standard of living
• Property awarded to each spouse
• Appropriateness of life insurance
• Availability of medical insurance
• Ownership of income generating property
• Existence of a prenuptial agreement
• Length of marriage
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 Family Lawyers in Santa Fe at Jay Goodman & Associates offer a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque during which we 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.