Before you file for divorce in New Mexico, it helps to understand what the relevant laws say and the basic requirements you must meet before filing papers.
Divorce in New Mexico
Divorce or “dissolution of marriage” is a legal process that must involve the New Mexico courts. No marriage is considered officially ended until the divorce decree has been signed by a judge.
The time it takes to complete the divorce process varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and generally depends on the caseload in the court, the availability of judges, and whether there are disputes or conflicts between the divorcing parties.
What are the grounds for divorce in New Mexico?
In the U.S., you must cite one of the legally acceptable grounds for divorce to dissolve a marriage. These grounds are set by each state and do vary.
According to the New Mexico Statutes Article 4 – Sections: 40-4-1, 40-4-2, the following are legal grounds for divorce in the state:
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
One of these reasons must be selected on the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form that you will fill out when applying for a divorce. You must also be prepared to substantiate the grounds for divorce that you describe.
What are at-fault and no-fault divorces?
In no-fault divorces, there is no need to establish who was to blame for causing the marriage breakdown.
In New Mexico, “incompatibility” or “irreconcilable differences” are used as general catch-all phrases for this type of divorce.
Note that it is not enough to simply be living separate and apart. You must demonstrate to the court that the marriage has no hope of reconciliation and that neither party intends to repair the marriage.
In at-fault divorces, the fault for the dissolution of the marriage is established and may be taken into account when key decisions are made regarding the terms of the divorce.
Many states have dispensed with at-fault divorces because they tend to promote disputes and legal action, causing more cases to require court hearings and leading to delays.
Does New Mexico allow at-fault divorces?
Yes. The three grounds detailed in New Mexico laws for at-fault divorces are cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, and abandonment.
If one spouse is guilty of any of the above, an at-fault divorce may entitle the other spouse (who files for divorce) to a greater share of the marital property or even punitive alimony payments.
This can lead to the types of traditional court battles you see in the movies. One party needs to prove the fault of the other party, often leading to a long, acrimonious, and expensive process.
While most divorces in New Mexico do not end up in the courtroom, an at-fault divorce is more likely to involve litigation, as spouses rarely part on good terms.
With no-fault divorces, there is usually a better chance of an amicable split.
What are the other requirements to file for divorce in New Mexico?
As well as having grounds for divorce, to legally end a marriage in New Mexico you or your spouse must have been resident in the state for at least six months and have a home (“domicile”) here.
Without this, the court does not have jurisdiction over your case and your petition will be dismissed.
There are ways to ensure that delays are kept to a minimum if you do not meet this requirement. You can file a legal separation action with the court before you meet the six-month requirement and then this can be “converted” to divorce at the six-month point.
If you serve in a military branch of the United States government and have been continuously stationed in a military base or installation in New Mexico for six months, you meet the residency requirement.
When you file papers with the court for divorce, you will be required to pay a filing fee – more about these fees here.
Documents you will need include the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form as well as some of the following, depending on your circumstances: Domestic Relations Information Sheet, Appearance, Waiver and Consent, Financial Affidavit, Parenting Plan and Child Support Obligation, and Affidavit Concerning Child Custody.
If the divorce is contested and you need to serve papers on your spouse, bear in mind that there is a mandatory waiting period of 30 days for your spouse to respond.
Is New Mexico an “equitable distribution state”?
When you file for divorce with the court, one of the many issues you will need to get to grips with is the property distribution laws.
New Mexico is a “community property” state and also an “equitable distribution” state.
This means that marital assets and debts are generally split 50/50 between the spouses unless another division is agreed by the spouses.
The equitable distribution laws mean that there is leeway to divide marital property more fairly if necessary.
Need help with filing for divorce?
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.