How Do I File for Divorce in New Mexico, USA – Cost and Procedures

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA downtown cityscape

How Do I File for Divorce in New Mexico, USA – Cost and Procedures 

Most people must confront divorce at some point in their lives. When you decide to file for divorce, you may be curious as to how the legal procedure works. If you have recently been served with divorce papers in New Mexico, you should be familiar with the process there, how it works, what you need to do, and what your rights are.

When you have children, custody is one of the most important considerations of your divorce. Filing for divorce on your own may be an option to consider, but it’s highly recommended to consult with a divorce lawyer.

The First Steps to Obtaining a Divorce in New Mexico

In New Mexico, divorce is referred to as the dissolution of marriage. Thus, you will likely see the term on court websites or paperwork. When the decision is made to become divorced, the spouse filing for divorce is referred to as the petitioner, while the other spouse is referred to as the respondent.

When beginning the divorce procedure, the petitioner must fill out one of two forms: a “Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage Without Children” or a “Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage with Children.”

The latter is appropriate if the family has children under the age of 19 who are still in high school.

It’s critical to understand that New Mexico has a residence requirement. With this in mind, at least one spouse must have lived in New Mexico for at least 180 days before filing for divorce.

The petition specifies what the petitioner desires and how they wish to settle the divorce. Remember that there’s a filing fee that must be paid before you may open the case and file any pleadings. The respondent has 30 days to respond after the petition is filed.

An attorney will be able to advise you on when to file and how to stay in the house or preserve bank accounts or finances during the divorce process. They will also be able to tell you whether or not interim support is an option.

Before submitting the papers, consider your current status and how you want to continue with the divorce.

Difference Between Uncontested and Contested Divorce In New Mexico

There are two types of divorce in New Mexico: uncontested divorce and contested divorce.

Divorce Concept With Wedding Ring And Gavel

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse agree on everything about the dissolution of your marriage.

It indicates that the parties have reached an agreement on who keeps what property and financial division, child support, alimony, and custody arrangements.

Most of the time, these types of divorces are relatively uncommon and are only appropriate for shorter-term marriages with no large community property assets or custody concerns.

While reaching such a broad agreement without any arguments might be difficult, particularly in shorter marriages, there are considerable benefits to taking the uncontested divorce method.

Primarily, your divorce will be less expensive. Because there’s no need for litigation or court time in an uncontested divorce, attorneys will charge less than they would in a contested divorce.

Furthermore, the couple can split the expense of the attorney, whose fee will be less expensive, implying that uncontested divorces are often less costly than contested divorces.

An uncontested divorce is processed more quickly, which means you’ll get your divorce faster and for less money. If you believe this is a viable option for you, consult with a reputable divorce lawyer to ensure a successful start.

Contested Divorce

The most prevalent type of divorce is a contested divorce. A contested divorce doesn’t always imply that it’ll be confrontational. In general, it signifies that there are issues that must be handled by negotiation or lawsuit.

It’s the most likely the path to choose, especially in longer marriages with significant property or debt or when children are involved.

In most cases, both parties have an attorney, making the process more affordable and efficient because both attorneys will negotiate agreements and guarantee the process moves forward.

When one party represents oneself, it can be a disadvantage because courts consider Pro Se parties to be their attorneys and hold them to the same standards as a professional divorce lawyer.

Unfortunately, inexperience will not be an excuse for careless motions, a lack of preparation, or missed deadlines.

Filing The Divorce Paperwork

After you have completed the petition and the information sheet, you must file the necessary documents in the judicial district court for your county.

New Mexico is divided into 13 judicial districts, with each court encompassing numerous counties.

The petitioner must pay a filing fee to the court during the filing period, which is payable in cash or money order. You can also seek a fee waiver.

Serving the Petition

When you go to court to file your paperwork, you should have numerous copies of the petition with you. The copies will be stamped by the court clerk and served or delivered to your spouse.

The service entails sending a copy of the divorce petition to the other spouse in a court-approved way.

According to New Mexico law, you should serve the respondent spouse using any of the following methods:

  • Any person above the age of 18 delivers a court-stamped copy of the petition to the respondent.
  • Hiring the county sheriff where the respondent resides or works to personally deliver the documents. Keep in mind that the sheriff will charge you for this service.
  • Sending a court-stamped copy of the petition through certified mail, return receipt requested, or restricted delivery. Only the respondent will be required to sign the copy, and you’ll have confirmation of delivery with the “return of the receipt.”

After serving your spouse, you must file proof of service with the court.

For example, if the respondent signed the green proof of delivery card and the postal service returned it to the petitioner, the petitioner is required to present the green card to the court clerk’s office as proof that the respondent received a copy of the divorce petition.

If you pay the sheriff to serve the respondent spouse, the sheriff will provide the documentation required to verify service.

Finally, if a third person serves the divorce paperwork, the petitioner should have the individual mark the service date on an extra court-stamped copy of the petition.

There are additional choices to explore if the other party is uncooperative, hostile, or you don’t know where they are.

In such cases, the two most typical approaches are to engage a process server or sheriff to serve your spouse, or to serve via newspaper publishing.

If you decide to employ a divorce attorney to represent you, they’ll oversee this process.

The Response

Within 30 days of receiving the documentation, the respondent spouse must complete an appearance form and a written answer to the divorce petition.

The responding spouse has the opportunity to oppose or agree with what the petitioner stated in the divorce petition in the response or answer. The respondent must file the original response with the court and send a copy to the petitioner.

Mandatory Financial Disclosures

Man handing over Dollars

In general, both spouses must exchange specific financial information within 45 days of the petitioner filing for divorce. The required financial disclosure requires both parties to provide the following information:

  • Personal and shared assets and liabilities
  • Wages, passive investments, and self-employment income
  • Expenses

What Is the Divorce Discovery Rule 1-123?

Discovery is the process through which both parties disclose all financial facts to divide assets and debts. The process is critical in your case, especially if one spouse is hiding assets or both parties aren’t equally aware of their financial condition.

In most cases, spouses try to conceal assets from the other spouse, or one spouse controls the funds so that the other is unaware of their financial situation. Following the petition filing, a process of discovery is usually initiated so that both parties can turn over all relevant property or financial information.

It’s crucial to consult with your attorney about discovery so that they understand what’s relevant and what information you want your spouse to turn over, as well as what information you don’t want to disclose.

Try to obtain or request all financial data, such as bank accounts, 401k, and retirement account details, investment statements, tax returns, and pay stubs, to mention a few.

Because these types of disclosures are part of practically every divorce case, compiling and arranging this information for your lawyer from the beginning will save you a lot of money and time that it would take your lawyer to request the information and comb through it.

In most circumstances, you must provide full financial information from the last three years, including tax returns and pay stubs. Alimony and property partition will be decided after the rule 1-123 disclosures are completed.

Division Of Property In New Mexico

Since New Mexico is a community property state, all obligations and assets accumulated during the marriage must be split equally.

Simply put, the valuations of all assets and liabilities must be computed and split. Examples include bank accounts, savings, retirement accounts, 401ks, investments, cars, real estate, and even the marital home.

Some spouses have a substantial amount of separate property to divide, while others have very little.

The marital house is usually one of the most important assets to address. It is generally accepted as one of the most valuable assets to be divided, and both parties have a shared interest in it.

If one spouse wishes to keep the house, they must either buy out the other party and refinance themselves or give the other party enough assets to balance out the house’s worth and debt.

Typically, neither partner can afford to keep the home on their own, so it is sold, and the earnings are divided once the remaining debt is paid.

In some circumstances, one party may have a separate property interest in the residence, and the value of the separate property must be calculated.

Along with custody and alimony, property division is usually one of the most disputed areas of a divorce. Thus, it’s frequently addressed in a settlement agreement.

If no agreement can be reached, the court retains full jurisdiction and will make the final decision. Sadly, there’s a possibility that the decision of the court might not be in your favor or the other way around.

Alimony in New Mexico 

Sticker with word Alimony and Cash New Mexico
Sticker with word Alimony and Cash New Mexico

In New Mexico, alimony or spousal support is a common part of most contested divorces. Although the length of the marriage plays a role, the decision to award alimony to one spouse is ultimately based on the need and ability to pay.

Alimony, unlike child support, isn’t computed automatically by the courts during a divorce case. Therefore, the spouse who wants it must pursue it.

Similarly, unlike child support, alimony is no longer determined using strict mathematical equations. In general, it is determined by one spouse’s need and the other’s ability to pay, among other things.

In most circumstances, the court will consider the following factors:

  • Both spouses’ age, health, and means of support
  • Each spouse’s current and anticipated income and earning ability
  • Spouses’ good faith efforts to keep their jobs or become self-sufficient
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Both spouses’ assets and obligations
  • The property reward amount for each spouse

Depending on the court’s ruling, spousal support payments may be required at regular intervals or in a lump sum payment.

If the dependent spouse cannot sustain themselves independently owing to a lack of cash or a handicap, they may be eligible for maintenance payments.

One of the main goals of New Mexico spousal support is to maintain the standard of living that was established during the marriage.

Therefore whether one or both spouses can keep that quality of living is a major issue during the case.

Final Thoughts on How to File for Divorce in New Mexico, USA – Cost and Procedures

If you decide to proceed with your divorce, working with a reputable divorce attorney is vital to help you go through the process correctly.

Although the process will take time and effort, knowing the legalities in New Mexico will help you get through it with less hassle.

Further,  with a good divorce attorney guiding you through the process, you automatically stand a much better chance of winning your case.

Read More:

How Do I File for Divorce in Arkansas? – Cost and Procedures

How Do I File for Divorce in Nevada? – Cost and Procedures

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, and she is the Editor of Lifestyle Divorce. Patricia’s worked as the Practice Manager at an International Divorce and Family law firm for over 15 years. She is a qualified Counsellor, and she has had many counselling sessions with people considering or going through a divorce.

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