There are two answers to this question: the known costs and the unknown costs of filing for a divorce in New Mexico.
Most couples, when filing for a divorce, understand that there are some official court charges to meet. These are usually predictable and quite manageable.
The “unknown” costs are far less predictable and greatly depend on the nature of your divorce.
Few divorces pass totally smoothly through the necessary legal processes and many cases involve the intervention of lawyers, mediators, arbitrators or a New Mexico judge to help resolve matters.
This is especially the case if there are children to consider from the marriage or if the marriage is long and involves the accumulation of considerable assets.
If you’re lucky enough to experience a completely uncontested divorce, you will be able to keep the costs (and stress!) to a minimum.
For most people, however, a divorce is likely to cost more than you expect because of the fees necessary to iron out disagreements and disputes.
Divorce filing fees in New Mexico
To file for divorce in New Mexico, there is a one-off court filing fee of $135-$155. This simply opens a divorce case in your name(s) in the court system here. Other charges may be incurred for each petition, such as the settlement of property division, custody, etc.
You may want to access the self-help divorce packages provided by the New Mexico courts. These are available for $10-20 depending on whether or not your divorce is contested or uncontested and whether you have children or not.
However, the divorce process is likely to involve considerable discussion and compromise with your spouse and most people take legal advice from a family lawyer at some point. That’s when additional costs come into play and these are discussed in some detail below.
Can divorce filing fees be waived?
Divorce filing fees can be waived by the court for those who can prove that they are financially challenged. You will first need to complete a form, provide documentation, and then wait for a response before filing for divorce.
Most people simply pay the associated fees.
Other fees to expect when filing for a divorce
There is a range of other fees you should expect to pay when filing for a divorce in New Mexico.
In addition to the court filing fees, legal fees, the costs of mediation, and other fees can easily add up to $10,000 – $15,000 or more.
Much of this depends on your unique divorce situation. There are so many variables that it is almost impossible to provide meaningful guideline figures for your divorce.
Contested and uncontested divorces
Generally speaking, the fewer contentious issues there are between you and your spouse, the quicker any outstanding matters can be resolved and the divorce finalized.
If you and your spouse can settle your differences around the kitchen table or with a simple mediation session or two, you can keep the costs reasonable. However, even apparently uncontested divorces can experience unforeseen hiccups before the separation agreement is ready to be signed and the divorce can be finalized.
If you are far apart in your expectations regarding child custody, child support, marital property division, and/or spousal support, the legal costs are likely to mount. Multiple mediation sessions may be required or even arbitration in a contested divorce.
The most expensive divorces end up at trial with a judge having to decide.
As well as the increased involvement from lawyers, contested divorces may need other interventions, such as a child custody evaluator, guardian ad litem or other professional. This will add to the overall cost of the divorce.
Most couples want to reach a collaborative or mediated agreement before it gets to the trial stage and, in the vast majority of cases, this is achievable with the right legal advice.
The costs of hiring a divorce lawyer
The costs associated with the legal processes involved in divorce depend on your arrangement with your divorce lawyer. Most divorce attorneys will charge an hourly rate (the average hourly rate is $270 across the United States).
In most cases, if your lawyer can avoid a court trial and help you to arrange a divorce that keeps family relationships intact and sets you up financially for the future, anything paid to a family or divorce lawyer is money well spent.
As well as outlining your legal options, your lawyer can help safeguard your financial security and ensure that nothing important gets missed, e.g., the division of retirement plans/pensions is commonly overlooked during DIY divorces.
The stakes are high and if things go wrong, it can lead to emotional as well as financial turmoil. So, if you and your partner do not see eye to eye on certain issues, the intervention of experienced lawyers can help settle matters without a protracted court battle.
Your lawyer will not only help to settle disputes but also ensure that all documentation is drafted according to New Mexico’s laws and be legally enforceable, reducing the prospect of delays and extra costs.
Ultimately, while no two divorces are the same in New Mexico, every divorce case must pass through the courts and be approved by a judge before being finalized. That usually requires legal assistance of some sort — and you should start with a free consultation.
Get help with your divorce in New Mexico
If you’re considering filing for divorce or have been served with divorce papers, start by talking your situation through with a divorce lawyer at Legal Solutions of New Mexico.
We can help advise you of your options and provide the legal support you need at this time. Start with a free consultation. Call 505-445-4444 or email us.