Albuquerque Divorce Lawyers
Seeking a divorce in New Mexico will require that you go through a series of steps in order to handle the process smoothly and without issue. Divorce is characterized as the legal action enacted between two people to end a marriage. This sounds simpler than it is since the process also involves deciding the division of property and debts among the two parties.
If a child is involved, then the case will also involve matters of custody and support. You will need to have lived in New Mexico for six months previously in order to file for divorce here. If this requirement is met, then you may approach a New Mexico family court with the matter.
Our Albuquerque divorce lawyers have created a guide to provide you with some legal information about divorce to give you a better insight on what to expect.
5.Marital Property Division
7.Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a lawyer to get divorced in Albuquerque?
Getting a divorce in Albuquerque may seem like a relatively straightforward process for some people but a smooth transition cannot be guaranteed unless you are able to cover all the legal aspects.
After all, the dissolution of any marriage is a legal process.
For couples with children, the complexities of ending a marriage are even greater.
The following tough issues must be resolved:
- Division of property
- Division of any debts
- Child custody
- Child support
So, in most cases, you will need to find an experienced Albuquerque divorce lawyer who is familiar with New Mexico family law.
The Divorce Process Basics in Albuquerque
How do you file for divorce in Albuquerque?
There are a few basic requirements if you want to file for a divorce in New Mexico, according to state law.
- You or your spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months
- A petition and other papers must be filed in the district court in the county where you live or where your spouse lives
- You must state before the court, under oath, that both you and your spouse are no longer compatible
- There is a fee to pay unless the judge has approved a free process
- The divorce is not final until the judge signs the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage
Note that the agreement of both partners is not necessary when filing for a divorce.
Once you’ve filed for divorce, your spouse has 30 days to respond to the divorce papers and their answer will be filed by the court as their opinion on the papers.
If your spouse does not respond to the petition, the result is a default judgment where everything asked for in the petition is granted.
This judgment is overruled if your spouse later provides the court with an adequate reason for answering late.
What are the grounds for divorce in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, there are four grounds for divorce:
- Cruel/inhumane treatment, or
- General incompatibility
The grounds for divorce are important as they will help determine other aspects of the divorce case, such as custody and child support.
Your divorce attorney will help you establish this.
How much does a divorce in Albuquerque cost?
You have the mandatory fee involved in filing for a divorce in New Mexico, which is a nominal $10-20 fee (depending on the circumstances of the divorce).
Then there are the costs of hiring a lawyer. This can mount up in complex cases that involve spousal support or child access. Such cases may require multiple hearings or even (in rare cases) go to trial.
According to lawyers.com, the average cost of a divorce case in New Mexico is $10,700. This includes $8,400 in attorneys' fees.
The remaining costs (beyond the fee for filing the case) are:
- The costs of copying and sharing documents
- Compensation for expert witnesses and consultants (e.g. child custody evaluators and financial analysts).
Note that the cost of a divorce for high-net-worth couples in New Mexico is, on average, close to three times the cost of standard divorces.
How long does the divorce process take?
This depends on the circumstances of the divorce but 30-90 days within submission to the court is a realistic guideline to work from if both parties are in agreement.
In the worst-case scenarios, where property division, spousal support, and child custody cannot be agreed, trials can be fought in court and decisions appealed.
These can last for many months or even years.
Will my case go to divorce court?
A divorce is a legal process so the court is involved, yes.
When you go before a judge, the suggestion is usually to settle and negotiate the matter through mediation.
This is where both parties attempt to reach a mutually beneficial understanding.
If your differences are irresolvable and an agreement cannot be found, the matter will go to divorce court.
New Mexico annulment: How’s it different from a divorce?
An annulment and a divorce are only similar in that they’re both court procedures that end a marriage.
The big difference is that an annulment will completely wipe a marriage off of any records. The grounds for annulment are different from those of divorce and include:
- One of the parties was below the age of 16 at the time of marriage
- One of the parties was below the age of 18 and married without parental consent
- The marriage was illegal due to:
- The parties being too closely related
- One of the parties already being married at the time
The annulment process follows the steps of divorce closely and results in the marriage being considered completely void. Children are considered to be legitimate by the court, and the husband will continue to be considered the father until proven otherwise.
The judge presiding over the matter can make decisions concerning child custody and child support.
In terms of property, the court distributes it in the same manner as during a divorce case. A lawyer will be able to represent you in the matter.
What happens if my partner and I cannot agree on the terms?
It’s common for there to be disagreements and disputes with the terms of a divorce. It’s an emotional time for all parties involved.
Even in cases where things look to be going smoothly, once the terms get put in writing, it can trigger problems.
If you cannot agree on terms, it becomes a contested divorce.
How should I prepare for a contested divorce?
Preparation is key. There is plenty to work on in a divorce.
Firstly, while any divorce requires legal advice, the involvement of an experienced Albuquerque divorce lawyer becomes essential in a contested divorce.
The stakes are high and the outcome will affect the rest of your life. You want the best chance of a favorable outcome.
Hire an experienced lawyer. Don’t listen to family or friends about legal matters. The advice is likely to be ill-informed.
Take legal advice only from your trusted lawyer and be honest with them.
Together, you can work through the main aspects of the divorce, such as:
- The assets at stake – make an inventory of what you and your spouse both own: property, vehicles, business shares, bank accounts, jewelry, etc.
- The debt situation – detail any outstanding debts that you and your spouse owe: credit card debt, mortgages, etc.
- What you consider to be a fair division of assets
The above areas usually cause the most disputes in Albuquerque divorce law (in the absence of any children).
More about this in the marital property division section below.
Should I be seeking an uncontested divorce?
Ideally, you and your spouse reach a mutual agreement easily and can quickly move on with your lives.
This is an uncontested divorce and it’s usually better for all parties, especially if there are children.
It is a quicker, easier, less expensive, and less emotional process than a contested divorce but still requires legal advice from a divorce attorney.
While there still needs to be the involvement of the courts, you probably won’t have to appear.
So, if you are happy with the terms of the divorce that you and your spouse have agreed, an uncontested divorce is, of course, preferable.
How do I arrange an uncontested divorce?
For an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must reach agreement in the following areas:
- Division of property - how will you divide your assets (money, bank accounts, property, vehicles, shares, art, jewelry, etc.) as well as assets of sentimental value?
- Payment of debts – what outstanding debts are there and who will be responsible for payment of these?
- If there are children, who will have custody and how will visits for the other parent be arranged?
- Is spousal support going to be necessary?
After you file for an uncontested divorce in Albuquerque and divorce papers are served, you will need to select and complete the appropriate forms.
These might include:
- Minor child forms
- Service of process forms
- Other additional forms depending on your situation
Once the forms are filed with the clerk in the district court and the service of process completed, there may be a short court hearing. The judge then signs the Divorce Decree.
What are postnuptial agreements?
You are probably familiar with the concept of prenuptial agreements.
Postnuptial agreements are essentially the same types of agreements made between spouses after they’re already married.
You would normally work with your family lawyer to draw up such an agreement so that it is valid in the New Mexico family courts.
What is included in postnuptial agreements?
A postnuptial agreement generally includes provisions for the following areas:
- Property division - physical property such as real estate, as well as financial assets like stocks, bonds, savings accounts, 401Ks, and other monetary holdings.
- Terms of spousal support – amount and length of time of payments (if the agreement determines that there will be spousal support).
- Handling of marital debts - especially important if one partner owns or manages a business or other high-value operation that deals with considerable debt.
- How assets will be distributed in the event of a death – how the will may be handled if there is a death of one of the spouses during the divorce process, for instance.
Are postnuptial agreements enforceable?
If a postnuptial agreement is not drawn up with the help of an experienced divorce lawyer, it is unlikely that an Albuquerque judge will follow it.
To be certain that the agreement is enforceable, your lawyer will make sure that:
- Both spouses are in agreement over its fairness and no coercion was used
- Both spouses fully disclose their financial situation at the time of the agreement, including liability, debts, assets, liens, etc.
- It is properly executed with spouse signatures, witnesses, and notarized
Marital Property Division
What property do we need to divide in a divorce?
A divorce agreement needs to address the division of marital property in a fair and equitable way for both parties.
The main assets at stake may include:
- The matrimonial home
- Other property investments
- Business shares
- Bank accounts
- Virtually anything else of value
A judge will look mainly at the financial value but there is often sentimental value that is harder to assess.
Do I need an attorney to divide property?
Child custody and marital property division are two main areas of a divorce agreement that cause the most disputes in Albuquerque divorce law.
Both areas can become very complex.
In the case of property division, it can be especially complex if there is a family-owned business involved or if there are many potential exemptions and tax consequences.
Most people require the experience of an attorney to navigate this process and achieve a favorable outcome.
Is spousal support mandatory?
No. Spousal support is only part of a divorce agreement if it is deemed necessary.
However, in many cases, a court will order a husband (or wife) to pay alimony to the other spouse after separation or divorce.
In many marriages, one spouse makes the majority of the collective income. The other spouse may be virtually dependent on at least a portion of their income.
The court will frequently intervene and grant alimony in such cases.
Is there a time limit on alimony payments?
Alimony payments can be one of three types in New Mexico:
- Long-term alimony
- Transitional alimony
- Rehabilitative alimony
Whether there is a time limit on making alimony payments will depend on which type of alimony is granted by the court.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Will My Divorce Take?
No two divorces are the same, meaning there is no set amount of time that your divorce will take. There are many factors to consider, such as your spouse’s willingness to cooperate, the complexity of your finances that need to be divided, the children involved, and more.
There are a variety of options that you can take during a divorce, including uncontested divorce or a contested divorce.
For Uncontested Divorce
In an uncontested divorce, you will reach agreements on all major issues of your divorce without a trial, and will simply approach a judge showing you have agreed to everything in order to finalize the divorce. The amount of time will vary mostly on how long it takes you and your spouse to reach a final agreement.
For Contested Divorce
A contested divorce is much more complicated and time-consuming. First, you must attempt to reach an agreement outside of the court, and when you have determined that no agreement will be made, you must move to actual litigation. You will then need to go through a discovery process, interviews, and finally, a trial. During this time, you are waiting on the courts to set any and all dates. After a trial is completed, there is the additional chance of an appeal, which may take years.
How Much Alimony Will I Need to Pay?
Alimony payments depend on a variety of factors in your marriage, such as
- the length of the marriage,
- the income disparity between spouses,
- possible prenuptial agreements, and
- the overall financial health of the family
Your attorney will be able to work with you closely to determine fair alimony amounts and the length of time they will be paid.
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