In New Mexico, spousal support is the term used for financial support that one spouse gets from the other after separation or divorce (sometimes also called alimony). A judge orders spousal support payments to provide for living expenses and everyday necessities, with the goal of ensuring that both parties can continue to live at the same standard as they enjoyed during their marriage.
A judge will look at the following factors when making a decision about whether and how much spousal support is awarded:
- the couple’s ages and health
- each spouse’s earning capacity and needs
- the length of the marriage
- the standard of living that the couple enjoyed during marriage
- the amount of property awarded to each spouse in the divorce
- the type and nature of the couple’s assets and debts
- the ability of each spouse to maintain employment or become self-supporting
- whether the agreement calls for maintenance of medical insurance, and
- any agreements entered by the couple in contemplation of divorce or legal separation.
Two of the most important factors are how long the marriage lasted and whether one spouse gave up career opportunities in support of the marriage. For example, the court is very likely to award spousal support to a spouse who has spent many years raising children and caring for the family, and is unable to obtain any employment because of age and lack of experience.
There are several different types of spousal support in New Mexico.
- Rehabilitative spousal support allows the dependent spouse to obtain education, training, or work experience to earn income and become self-supporting. A judge may include a specific rehabilitation plan and may make the support order contingent on the compliance of that plan.
- Transitional support supplements the dependent spouse’s income for a limited period of time.
- Spousal support for an indefinite duration.
- A single lump sum to be paid in one or more installments, subject only to the receiving spouse's death.
- A single lump sum to be paid in one or more installments, not subject to any contingencies--in other words, even the receiving spouse's death won't end the payments, which would continue being paid to the spouse's estate until the lump sum was completely paid.
If there's no specific end date in the order, the support could continue indefinitely. But if there's no specific end date, then either spouse may ask the court to modify the spousal support order based on changed circumstances, such as when the dependent spouse becomes self-supporting.
New Mexico has an Alimony Guideline Worksheet available to calculate whether spousal support may be ordered. The calculations provide an estimate amount of support that one spouse may have to pay to the other. Find it here.
Spousal support is tax deductible by the paying spouse and reportable as income by the receiving spouse.
If the paying spouse is delinquent in payments, then the spouse receiving the payments may ask the court for a notice to withhold income. Thereafter, the support payments may be directly withdrawn from the supporting spouse’s income. Late spousal support payments may also accrue interest until the payments are no longer delinquent.