Tell me about alimony (spousal support) in New Mexico

What is the difference between spousal support and alimony?

There is no legal difference between them. 

How does a judge decide whether to order one spouse to pay alimony to the other?

A judge will look at many different things, including:  (1) the age and health of both spouses; (2) both spouses’ ability to support themselves; (3) how much each spouse earns now and in the future; (4) how well each spouse tries and is able to support him/herself; (5) how long the marriage lasted; (6) how much each spouse owes; and (7) how both spouses lived during the marriage.

Does alimony have to be paid on a monthly basis?

No.  Alimony may be paid in a lump sum or in regular payments, however the spouses must agree on the payment method or a judge will issue an order.

What can alimony be spent on?

If the judge says that alimony has to be spent on certain things, then the alimony has to be spent on those things.  Sometimes a judge will say that alimony must be used for school or job training so that the spouse who gets the alimony will be able to get a job and support him/herself.  Sometimes a judge will say that alimony just be given to the other spouse in addition to money he/she earns, and the spouse receiving the alimony can decide how the money is spent.  If the judge does not say anything about how the alimony is to be spent, the money may be spent however the spouse receiving the alimony wants.

How long do you have to be married to request alimony?

Anyone can request alimony.  However, courts do not usually award alimony for short marriages.  As a general rule, a marriage under 10 years would most likely be considered short.  However, it really depends on the circumstances of the marriage and other factors listed above as to whether or not a judge will order alimony.  In New Mexico, if you have been married for over 20 years, the court will automatically consider whether alimony is appropriate in your case.  It is always best to ask for alimony if you believe that your circumstances might fit within the legal guidelines for making an alimony award.

How long does a spouse have to pay alimony?

It depends on what the parties agree to or what a judge orders.  It can be for a specific time, until a certain event occurs (such as remarriage), or until the spouse receiving the alimony dies.


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