New Mexico looks at ten different factors in setting spousal support (sometimes known as alimony). These factors include:
1. Length of the marriage
2. The age and health of the parties
3. The ability of each person to support him/herself
Here are a couple of possible scenarios:
A person who’s been in a stay-at-home marriage may need alimony for a short period of time to train (or re-train) to re-enter the workforce. Perhaps before marriage, they had their teaching degree, but then stayed home to raise the children. And now, it’s 15 years later and their marriage is falling apart; perhaps all that spouse needs to do is go back to re-certify themselves as a teacher and they can become self-supporting. The court will look at the current and future earnings of both parties when awarding spousal support.
Major difference in earning power
If one spouse is making a million dollars and the other barely qualifies for a minimum-wage job, then there’s a strong possibility there will be spousal support. The court will also look at what assets each party is going to receive; if there are nominal assets but big incomes, then there’s likelihood there’s going to be alimony. But if one spouse is going to be receiving $20 million, that spouse may not need alimony if the assets they receive will generate sufficient income.
Ability to pay alimony
The court will also look at the ability of the other spouse to pay alimony. Under the guidelines is a rule that if one party’s income is under $25,000 a year, that person will not generally be ordered to pay spousal support. One thing the court wants to ensure is that support is paid. Somebody earning that amount of money probably has a very poor ability to even pay support.
The court will consider the ten factors set out in the statute, and they are all weighed equally.
Jon Feder is a shareholder with Atkinson & Kelsey practicing in divorce and family law including state planning and probate. He has practiced family law for more than 30 years and is a frequent lecturer before various groups regarding family law and divorce taxation. Mr. Feder is recognized as a family law specialist by the New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization. He has been court appointed mediator or facilitator in family law cases and has acted as a special master. For more information about Jon A. Feder and his firm, please visit www.atkinsonkelsey.com.