What is Spousal Support?
Spousal support, also known as alimony, consists of payments from one former spouse to the other after divorce. In this article, we’ll discuss spousal support in New Mexico and its types, how it differs from child support, what factors influence alimony awards, and more.
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What is the difference between spousal support and child support?
When it comes to child support in New Mexico, the amount each parent will pay is simply a fixed percentage of the combined gross income of the parents, minus any deductions allowed by the Human Services Department.
Spousal support, on the other hand, is what is known as a discretionary award. This means that the judge is much more free to award whatever support they see as appropriate. There are; however, a number of factors that serve as guidelines for the judge’s decision:
- The age, ability to work, and financial state of the former spouses – a judge will likely award more to an elderly divorcee with less ability to retrain themselves and re-enter the workforce.
- How long it will take for the spouse receiving payments to become self sufficient – for example, if the lower earning spouse put off earning a degree or professional certification due to the marriage, they could receive an award of support towards achieving that goal.
- The length of the marriage – generally, the longer the marriage, the higher the alimony award will be.
- The standard of living to which the former spouses have become accustomed – a judge will consider this; however, often times the lifestyle of the lower earning spouse will take a hit if they are accustomed to living lavishly.
- The ability of the higher earning spouse to pay alimony – a court will not order alimony payments that would interfere with the financial health and stability of the paying spouse.
As you can see, the alimony guidelines are really designed around the idea that alimony should be a path to self sufficiency for the lower earning spouse.
Check back soon for Spousal Support in New Mexico, Part 2