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Understanding alimony awards in New Mexico

The divorce process is not easy, and even when it appears straightforward, some legal divorce issues are harder to resolve than others. The post-divorce life can look significantly different than married life, and some spouses might fear that they may not be able to make ends meet on their own. When meeting financial needs is a major concern during dissolution, it might be a good idea to consider how spousal support could address this issue.

In New Mexico, alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis, and unlike child support orders, there are no mandatory guidelines for spousal support payments that the court is required to follow. And while the state does have statutory factors the court must consider when determining whether alimony is appropriate or not, ultimately, the court has discretion when it comes to determining the amount of alimony to award.

When seeking alimony, it is important to understand the purpose of alimony and how it can be altered or terminated. The main reason that spousal support is sought is to help a spouse that has been disadvantaged by his or her inability to be self-supporting. Alimony is a way for that spouse to go back to school or obtain the necessary training so he or she can provide for him or herself after the marriage. Such a situation is referred to as rehabilitative alimony.

In situations where both spouses are relatively young and healthy and both have the means to provide for themselves, it is unlikely that the court will award alimony. Additionally, alimony is not used as a tool to punish a spouse for a wrongdoing such as infidelity or domestic abuse.

If spousal support is determined to be appropriate, the court will determine the appropriate amount to award. In order to give a spouse a general idea of that amount, he or she could look at the Statewide Spousal Support Guidelines that the New Mexico Supreme Court adopted in 2007.

Sorting through divorce issues such as alimony is not an easy process to go through. It is important that both spouses understand how alimony could help and what paying alimony means. Those unsure of how to address this or other divorce issues should seek advice regarding his or her options and rights in the matter.

Source: Ruidoso News, "Legal Analysis: Alimony in New Mexico," John Sugg, Accessed on Nov. 16, 2015

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