The question “how long does it take to get a divorce in New Mexico?” has as many answers as the question “how long does it take to get married?”
The length of time it takes to get married depends on circumstances and preferences. Some couples want a quick wedding with just family present that can be arranged in weeks and others want to plan a grand wedding a year in advance.
So it is with divorces. The main difference is that long, drawn-out divorces are generally not by design – but due to the amount of conflict between the spouses.
Some divorces in New Mexico can be concluded with the minimum of fuss, allowing both parties to move on with their lives relatively unscathed. Others can involve protracted court battles that leave a lasting scar on participants.
The standard for divorces lies somewhere in between: many issues can be ironed out between the couple before the lawyers are called in to facilitate agreement on the remaining issues and draw up the appropriate paperwork to make it legally binding.
This usually takes anywhere from two to six months to complete. If it goes to court, you could be looking at a year or more.
How Long Does a Divorce Take?
Providing you can meet a few general requirements, there is a reasonable chance that your divorce can be settled within 30 to 90 days of filing the paperwork in New Mexico.
These requirements are:
- The paperwork is completed correctly
- Either you or your spouse is resident in New Mexico for at least six months before filing for divorce
The actual time it takes will depend on the caseload of your local court, the availability of judges, and whether the paperwork you submit adequately addresses all the key issues to the satisfaction of the court.
The judge will not sign the final divorce decree until he or she is satisfied that adequate child custody, parenting, and support arrangements are in place and the marital property has been divided fairly.
Overcoming the residency requirement to avoid delays
Note that even if you don’t meet the residency requirement for New Mexico, you can file a legal separation action before you have been living in the state for six months. This can then be “converted” to divorce when you reach the six-month point.
So, if you have not resided in New Mexico for the required period and want to move the divorce process along, this is a way of avoiding unnecessary delays.
Contested Divorces vs Uncontested Divorces
One of the major causes of delays in a divorce is when couples cannot reach an agreement on one or more of the following:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Parenting plan including visitation rights
- Spousal support
- Property division
- Debt division
These “big-ticket” items are the ones most frequently disputed in contested divorces and must be resolved by negotiation mediations or litigation – all of which cost time and money and can add considerably to the length of time that the divorce process takes.
In uncontested divorces, on the other hand, most or all of these matters are resolved between spouses in private discussions. A divorce attorney may only be required to draw up the agreement and make it legally binding – or to provide input on a few minor remaining issues.
It is only when the agreements are put in writing and signed that the divorce can truly be declared as “uncontested”.
The paperwork is then submitted to the court and, providing there are no unforeseen delays, everything can be wrapped up relatively quickly.
Uncontested divorces, therefore, tend to be less expensive and less stressful than contested divorces, as well as quicker.
However, bear in mind that couples with the best of intentions and who start out on an amicable footing when discussing the terms of divorce often stumble into problems. An “uncontested” divorce can become “contested” and require help from attorneys or mediators, causing delays.
Summary of Factors That Affect the Duration of the Divorce Process
Some of the factors that contribute to the time it takes to divorce in New Mexico are within your control. Others are not:
- The six-month residency requirement – at least one party must be resident in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce (the children must also be resident for six months in the state for the New Mexico courts to have jurisdiction over child custody/support). See note above about Overcoming the residency requirement to avoid delays.
- 30-day response time – in contested divorces, when papers are served by one spouse on the other spouse, there is a 30-day response time for the served spouse to respond and file an answer with the court.
- Conflict between spouses – this one, whether you believe it or not, is within your control. You can take steps to reduce conflict (such as mediation) and to speed up the resolution of disputes or allow them to worsen and result in litigation. If the matter goes to a court trial, delays to your divorce are inevitable.
Need Help With Filing For Divorce?
If you can communicate amicably with your spouse, you are more likely to be able to arrange a quick divorce with manageable costs.
At the New Mexico Legal Group, our years of experience and commitment to working in your best interests can help you arrange your divorce without unnecessary delays or expenses.
For our Albuquerque office please call 505-405-8267 and for our Las Cruces office please call 575-888-8578 or get started with a free case evaluation.