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How is the duration of alimony determined in New Mexico?

While married couples often believe that money is a common concern during a marriage, it is often a more prominent concern at the end of a marriage. Because a spouse is worried that their financial needs might not be met in their new post-divorce life, it is likely that they will request alimony. But if alimony is awarded, spouses often question how long they will receive these spousal support payments.

How is the duration of alimony determined? According to the guidelines implemented in the state of New Mexico, if a spouse is awarded alimony, they could receive these payments indefinitely or for a set amount of time. The length of the marriage usually designates the duration of alimony. In addition, the circumstances experienced by the recipient spouse are also factors considered at the discretion of the judge.

In a marriage that last less than five years, it is likely that no alimony will be awarded. While circumstances surrounding the union and the income of a spouse could allow for temporary alimony, it is generally accepted that a marriage lasting less than five years will not result in spousal support.

Rehabilitative or transitional alimony is commonly awarded to those who were married for five to ten years and can establish that these payments are necessary. This usually occurs when a spouse quit their job or did not finish their education due to circumstance arising from their union such as having children.

Durational guidelines are established for those married from ten to twenty years. As mentioned above, whether one partner stayed out of the workforce and whether there are any young children involved may be considered when determining an appropriate amount of spousal support, as can the differences between each spouse's earning potential.

For divorcing couples married for more than 20 years, the court will reserve jurisdiction. This could result in a lump-sum payment or a non-modifiable spousal support term. Depending on the circumstances, this could even result in permanent alimony.

Those going through a divorce and are seeking alimony or are being requested to pay alimony should understand their rights and options. This will ensure the legal rights of both parties are upheld and a fair and agreeable arrangement could be reached.

Source: Nmcourts.gov, "Alimony Guidelines and Commentaries," accessed April 6, 2015

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