What are the different types of spousal support (alimony)?
In New Mexico, spousal support, also known as alimony, must be requested by one of the spouses during the process of dissolution of marriage. The court will consider the merits of the request based on the requesting spouse’s need, the other spouse’s ability to pay, and the overall appropriateness of the proposed arrangement.
New Mexico Statutes § 40-4-7 provides that the court “may allow either party such a reasonable portion of the spouse’s property or such a reasonable sum of money to be paid by either spouse either in a single sum or in installments, as spousal support as under the circumstances of the case may seem just and proper.”
Spousal support in New Mexico is awarded on the following bases:
- Rehabilitative spousal support
- Transitional spousal support
- Indefinite spousal support
- Lump sum alimony
For assistance with requesting spousal support and documenting the need for support, refer to a New Mexico divorce attorney.
Rehabilitative Spousal Support
Rehabilitative spousal support is granted in situations where the requesting spouse has a specific plan and program in mind to increase their earnings potential and self-sufficiency. The rehabilitative spousal support payments are meant to pay for the costs of such a program, whether it involves schooling, training, a specific level of work experience, or other activities.
In most cases, the full costs of attending the rehabilitative program are calculated in advance, but a court may approve continuing payments on a rolling basis, as appropriate, for situations where the full costs of the program may not be easily predicted.
Most rehabilitative spousal support agreements have a clause that spousal support will be discontinued if the recipient completes their program or decides they no longer wish to continue with it.
Transitional Spousal Support
Transitional spousal support is a form of temporary spousal support meant to help the ex-spouse get through a specific durational period or a specific condition that may be met in the near future. A common example is that a spouse will receive money to help them pay for rent in a temporary residence while they look for employment and/or long-term employment. The spouse may also receive assistance while they await the sale of the family home.
Courts generally prefer granting spousal support with a specific time window in mind and for a specific purpose. Anyone entering a divorce who feels like they would need these funds to get through the next few months should not hesitate to request them. An attorney can assist with filing the request, documenting a specific need, and negotiating for a reasonable amount that the other spouse is likely to be able to pay.
Indefinite Spousal Support
In marriages that last twenty years or more, the Court is required to retain jurisdiction over spousal support payments, unless the parties agree otherwise. Even though the courts retain jurisdiction to modify alimony indefinitely, that does not mean that alimony will necessarily be awarded in all long-term marriages.
The courts expect former spouses to attempt to be self-sufficient after divorce, and no former spouse is entitled to be continually supported by the other former spouse–absent some inability to obtain employment.
They may be at such an age that re-entering the job market is an unreasonable burden upon them. They may also have a disability or a condition that would otherwise make entering the workforce difficult. In these cases, indefinite spousal support might be awarded.
Note, too, that spousal support amounts are considered on the basis of the length of a marriage, as well. For a couple that’s only been married less than five years, a spouse is unlikely to get more than a small amount of transitionary and/or rehabilitative spousal support. But if the couple is married 10-20 years or longer, it’s understood that the spouse seeking support is not only more accustomed to a certain lifestyle, but also that the long-time spouse’s marital obligations may extend past the divorce.
In other words, individuals are more likely to receive long-term or indefinite spousal support after a longer duration of the marriage.
Lump Sum Spousal Support
In certain cases, it may be determined to be most appropriate for a spouse to be granted a lump sum of money instead of regular support payments for a set or indefinite duration. The lump sum can be payable in installments. In these cases, the courts will grant that a specific value of spousal support must be provided. The provision of the support can be given as a lump sum payable in installments. These installments continue until the full sum is reached.
The agreement may have contingencies, such as if the recipient spouse dies the payments no longer need to be continued. There may also be no contingencies, meaning that if the recipient dies, payments may continue to be made to the estate, the recipient’s survivors, or a trust formed in their name.
Request Spousal Support With Help From New Mexico Divorce Attorneys
New Mexico Financial & Family Law can provide you with legal guidance and representation as you work out the details of your divorce. We strongly encourage clients to think about the future — both in the near-term and the long-term — and to consider whether they may need support on a temporary or rehabilitative basis.
Many spouses, unfortunately, assume they will “land on their feet” only to have an extremely difficult time after a divorce. The law recognizes that placing someone in this position could discourage them from completing a divorce. That is why there is room for a spouse to request support as part of a divorce decree. Once a need is established, the court will also consider the best interests of the spousal support requestor to ensure that a fair and equitable arrangement is made so that everyone can move on from the divorce and thrive.
Get answers to your questions about spousal support and assistance with filing for divorce or amending a divorce decree during a no-obligation appointment with one of our experienced New Mexico divorce lawyers. Call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online to schedule your appointment now.