Have you ever wondered why someone would get a legal separation rather than dissolving their marriage? A dissolution completely ends the marriage, while a legal separation does not. This fundamental difference explains why some people choose to stay married but legally separate. Staying married can accommodate certain religious beliefs; can avoid legal residency requirements involved in dissolution proceedings; and, in some circumstances, can allow the parties to retain certain benefits of marriage. Either spouse may request a legal separation if the couple has permanently separated and no longer live together.
In New Mexico, the legal term for a divorce is a “dissolution” of marriage. Although state law allows a few fault-based grounds for dissolution, such as adultery, it is not necessary to prove fault to dissolve the marriage. In most cases, the ground used for divorce is known as “incompatibility.” The case starts when the person seeking the dissolution files a petition and an information sheet. The person filing the petition becomes known as the “petitioner” in the case, and the spouse against whom the petition is filed is known as the “respondent.” Together, they are known as the “parties” to the action.