When a marriage ends, it is not uncommon for one spouse to be required to pay monthly financial assistance to the other. This is known as alimony or spousal support. Spousal support can be awarded in New Mexico if one spouse earns significantly more income than the other, or if certain other criteria are met. Divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer in Santa Fe are well versed in Family Law and Alimony payments, and can help ensure that you receive support you may be entitled to once your marriage ends.
Obtaining Spousal Support in Santa Fe
New Mexico laws allow for spousal support to be a part of a divorce settlement. If a divorce is being settled between two parties, sometimes spousal support can be agreed upon before ending up in the family court system. If the two parties disagree on the appropriate amount of support, however, the court may have to make a decision.
Once the court rules on the amount of spousal support, it becomes binding under New Mexico law. One spouse will then have to pay monthly support in the amount determined by the court.
Determining New Mexico Spousal Support
A divorce court will take the following factors into consideration when assigning spousal support:
- Duration of marriage
- Good faith efforts of both spouses to remain employed
- Present and future earning capacities of both spouses
- Health and age of both spouses, as well as means of support
- Reasonable needs of each spouse; this includes standard of living during the marriage, needs for medical insurance, life insurance and more
- Asset types owned by each spouse
- Property confirmed or awarded to each spouse in the divorce (home, cars, etc.)
- Income earned by each spouse by other means, such as property rentals
- Liabilities or debts owned by each spouse
The New Mexico Supreme Court also recommends consulting a spousal support guidelines worksheet that is provided on the New Mexico Courts website. These are guidelines only, and are not set in stone in any New Mexico court. They can, however, be useful when negotiating on spousal support as part of a dissolution or divorce agreement.
Ensuring Payments Meet Spousal Support Guidelines
The final agreement or court order resulting in a divorce will explain exactly how and when spousal support must be paid. If these guidelines are not met, any support provided to a former spouse will not be recognized as an alimony payment by the court.
- Car payments, mortgage payments and similar debt payments DO NOT count as spousal support in New Mexico.
- Support payments should be in the form of cash or (even better) a personal check.
- Any payments made prior to the finalization of a divorce are not considered spousal support.
- If a couple files a joint tax return, spousal support cannot be claimed that same year.
- When a couple still lives in the same residence, alimony payments are not required.
Modifying a Spousal Support Agreement in Santa Fe
A spousal support agreement issued by a court is binding for the duration of any terms set within it. However, there are special circumstances in which the court will hear a petition to modify the amount of monthly alimony payments. For example, if the spouse making support payments were to suddenly be laid off from a job, or suffers a debilitating injury, the court may consider a hardship case. To ensure the best chance that your requested modification is granted by the court, you should have a Santa Fe family law attorney represent you and guide you through the process.
Hire a Santa Fe Divorce Lawyer for Your Spousal Support Case
While it is technically possible for a couple to negotiate a divorce settlement and spousal support on their own, it’s always a good idea to hire an experienced divorce attorney to represent you in court. This provides you the best chance of receiving the proper amount of alimony that you are entitled to.
Attorneys at the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer in Santa Fe are standing by to consult with you on your divorce case and any financial matters related to it. Contact our office at 505-924-1000 to schedule an appointment today.