How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in New Mexico?

Getting married can be a very quick process but divorces usually take a lot longer. How long a divorce takes in New Mexico depends on multiple factors, the most important of which is usually the level of conflict in the relationship between the spouses.

Divorces can be especially lengthy if they involve a trial and a judge must decide on the key matters. Alternatively, there are relatively simple divorces where the couple quickly agrees on the way forward and the legal arrangements to transition to independent lives.

The legal advice received during this process is essential and can make the difference between a quick, convenient, and cost-effective divorce and a long, drawn-out, and expensive process.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in New Mexico?

What are the legal requirements for divorce in New Mexico?

Divorce is a legal process so before a married couple can consider getting a divorce in New Mexico, they should be aware of the legal requirements for doing so, which are:

  • Legal grounds for divorce (e.g. an irretrievable marriage—as with a no-fault divorce—or cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery or abandonment).
  • Residency in the state of New Mexico for at least one spouse for at least six months, with a home (“domicile”) here.
  • Correctly completed forms submitted to the local courthouse in the area where one of the spouses lives.

Even if neither spouse has been resident in New Mexico for six months, you can still file for legal separation before the six months is up. The separation can be converted to a divorce after six months have passed, which can sometimes speed up the divorce process.

Also note that, in marriages with children, the children must have been resident for at least six months before filing for divorce. This allows the state of New Mexico courts to have jurisdiction over child custody/support matters.

What is the quickest time for a divorce in New Mexico?

Generally speaking, the quickest that a divorce will be granted in New Mexico is around one month after the application has been filed. This does, however, depend on the caseload in the local court system and the availability of judges to handle the case, as well as all matters being uncontested.

This rapid type of divorce is relatively unusual, especially if the couple has children, as it means that both spouses quickly agree on all the key matters, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. It also means the caseload in the court is very low. 

However, important matters like those addressed in a divorce case can be life-changing and usually require considerable discussion, collaboration, and negotiation before they can be settled according to the legal guidelines and the couple’s preferences.

Often, disagreements and conflict arise, complicating matters and almost certainly creating delays in the divorce process.

Most divorces in New Mexico take at least two to six months as the key matters are addressed and decided—and over a year if a trial is required.

Which factors can delay divorces in New Mexico?

Most people don’t start out wanting a divorce that takes a long time but circumstances make a quick resolution impossible. 

Apart from busy courts and judges, the main factor that delays divorces is the couple not being able to agree on one or more of the following:

A high level of conflict can add many months to the divorce process as the family law system in New Mexico doesn’t want any “loose ends” and must be satisfied that all matters are fully resolved before the divorce decree will be issued.

Other matters that affect the duration of a divorce may be beyond your control, such as:

  • The mandatory six-month residency requirement which you must satisfy before a divorce will be granted.
  • The 30-day response time that is allowed by the court after papers are served on a spouse.

Contested divorces vs uncontested divorces

Contested divorces are where one or more matters are, to some degree, disputed. This will delay the divorce process and the more matters that are contested, the more complex the process is (in most cases).

Unless the divorce case goes to trial (usually a last resort), judges will require a written agreement proving that all matters in a contested divorce are settled before a divorce can be granted.

In uncontested divorces, the couple usually creates a document (divorce agreement) outlining what has been agreed. A qualified family lawyer should check this agreement before submitting it to the court, to ensure that it is legally enforceable according to New Mexico law and to provide legal input if necessary.

Also, bear in mind that couples with the best of intentions may start with general agreement and not wish to involve lawyers or be involved in disputes. During emotional times, however, disagreements are quite normal and should be expected when discussing such important life matters.

So, in reality, it’s best to expect that most divorces are contested until proven otherwise.

How can you reduce the time it takes for a New Mexico divorce?

The best way to avoid a costly, lengthy, and stressful divorce process is to follow sound advice during this difficult period.

The guidance of attorneys or mediators can be a benefit. Such professionals can provide valuable support and identify the legal ramifications of any decisions you make. A family law attorney can also provide legal advice.

Divorce litigation should be a last resort. The main alternative dispute resolution methods are:

  • Negotiation: where spouses negotiate between themselves and resolve outstanding matters.
  • Collaboration: where each spouse hires a lawyer, who works on an agreement on behalf of their clients.
  • Mediation: where the spouses are guided by a trained mediator who tries to facilitate an agreement—though the final decision-making responsibility remains with the spouses.
  • Arbitration: where an arbitrator oversees a process similar to (but less formal than) a trial and makes a legally binding decision.

For advice on your legal rights, responsibilities, and options, book a consultation with a divorce lawyer from Legal Solutions of New Mexico or call us at 505-445-4444.