Much of the anxiety associated with family law cases has nothing to do with the actual conflict. Rather, anxiety and tension arise from simply not knowing what to do or what comes next. The family law attorneys at Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC provide the information and trusted counsel you need to more calmly and confidently navigate the divorce process.

An Overview of the Divorce Process

In New Mexico, a divorce begins by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This document is filed in the district court presiding over where you live; for Albuquerque residents, you file in the Second Judicial District Court. An official copy is served by one spouse (the petitioner) to the other (the respondent) either personally, through certified mail or, more commonly, through a process server—someone paid to ensure personal delivery of sensitive legal documents.

The petitioner has 30 days to respond in writing to indicate if he or she agrees with statements made in the Petition.

Within 45 days of the response, the parties involved must exchange financial disclosures (called Notice of Compliance with 4-123 NMRA*) that outline separate and joint assets and debts, income and expenses.

From this point, divorces can take many different paths. Parties who agree on major issues may proceed to the creation of a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) that outlines how joint assets and debts will be divided and a Parenting Plan that outlines how parents will share time with their child(ren) and each party’s child support obligation.

Parties with contested issues may seek mediation or move to litigation where a judge will intervene to settle disputes.

Tenets of Divorce Under New Mexico Law

Although no two family law cases are alike, all family law cases are defined by and subject to New Mexico laws, statutes and precedents, all of which uphold two core principles:

Community property
In New Mexico, all assets and debts acquired during the term of marriage are jointly and equally owned by both parties unless a preceding legal document, like a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, states otherwise and in limited cases, like inheritance and exceptional gifts.So, if your spouse accrued significant credit card debt while you were married, you will likely be held liable for half that debt amount. If you earned more income than your spouse and, therefore, contributed more to the purchase of a vehicle or home, your spouse is still entitled to 50% of the value of that vehicle or home.Joint custody to serve the child’s best interests
New Mexico law assumes that a child’s best interests are best served by having a relationship with both parents and that parents should maintain equal parental rights after divorce. As a result, joint custody is the presumed outcome in most cases, even if timesharing or visitation is not equally shared between parents. Sole custody is only awarded when one parent can demonstrate that the other parent’s involvement will result in physical or emotional harm to the child(ren).

Although equally dividing assets or your child(ren)’s time may not seem fair, knowing these tenets may help you forego some conflicts that are likely to only create more hostility and expense.

Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?

New Mexico law does not require that either party in a divorce have an attorney. However, there are many good reasons to seek legal counsel. Foremost, it is difficult to think clearly and make decisions about your family’s future during times of such emotional intensity. Having an experienced family law attorney can help you see beyond the immediate crisis so that your family has the documents and financial support in place for a secure future.

Meeting with a family law attorney does not obligate you to be represented by one, so there is no risk when you contact Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC. We invite you to our Albuquerque office to interview our team and learn more about your legal options and resources.

Dedicated Advocacy. Meaningful Results.

* Click here to see all forms available on New Mexico Courts website. Expand the District Court, then Domestic Relations folders to see forms pertaining to divorce.


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