When you file for a divorce in New Mexico, you will quickly discover that state laws make it extremely difficult for you and your spouse to merely “part ways.” Once you file for divorce, you will need to work out a number of legal issues, one of which is property division. The Albuquerque divorce lawyers at Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC can educate you on New Mexico’s property division laws and advise you on what to expect based on yours and your spouse’s circumstances.
New Mexico is one of the few remaining states that recognizes community property laws. In community property states, there exists a rebuttable presumption that all property a couple acquires during a marriage, with the exception of gifts and inheritances, is marital property — meaning, it belongs to both parties. All marital property is subject to equal division during divorce, regardless of in whose name the community property is titled.
Along with major assets such as homes, vehicles and furniture, marital property may include the following:
Even in community property states, some property is considered sacred and separate. Separate property may include the following:
In some circumstances, separate property may become community property if individuals do not take care to keep it separate. When one party comingles a separate asset with marital ones, the asset may lose its separate designation. This may occur when, say, one spouse uses inherited money to renovate the family home or pay off marital debt. For any property to maintain its separate status, you must keep it apart from all marital property.
Just as the court presume that all property acquired during a marriage was acquired for the benefit of the community, so too will it assume that all debts were accrued for the benefit of the family unit. Thus, all debts are community debts are divided equally between parties.
Bear in mind that just because a judge allocates one shared debt to one party does not mean that the other will no longer be on the hook from the creditor’s point of view. For instance, say the judge awards your spouse the car and the car payments, both of which are in both of your names. If your spouse fails to keep up with the car payments, your credit will suffer, and the lender will have every right to turn to you for repayment.
Property division is one of the most contentious aspect of any divorce, second only to child custody. The Albuquerque property division lawyers at Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC will advise you on how you can obtain the most favorable outcome, despite New Mexico’s community property laws. To schedule an initial consultation, contact our law office today.