Stairs isolated on white backgroundDivorce is tragic for all the obvious reasons, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying. Knowing what lies ahead always makes the path easier to follow. You are here at this very point because you have weighed all the options; perhaps you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse have tried couples counseling or even gone through legal separation (which is not a prerequisite to divorce in New Mexico). After much deliberation, you have decided to end the marriage.
You have a ton of questions beginning with, “where do I go from here?” Here are the steps to getting a divorce in New Mexico.
Step 1 – Residency: To file for divorce (aka – Dissolution of Marriage) in New Mexico either you or your spouse must reside in the state for at least six months prior to filing. You can file in the county where either party lives.
Step 2 – Grounds for Divorce: The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must state the grounds for divorce. In New Mexico there are two main categories:
No-Fault: The parties are incompatible and there is no hope of reconciliation; or
Fault: There are allegations of cruel and inhuman treatment; adultery; or abandonment.
Step 3 – Division of Property/Assets/Debt: New Mexico is a community property state. So any assets, property and debt acquired during the marriage will be split equally. If you want to divide otherwise, then the parties must come to a mutual agreement. Whatever debt, assets and property you came into marriage with is generally not subject to division.
Step 4 – Alimony: One spouse may be entitled to permanent or temporary spousal support depending on need as well as the other spouse’s ability to pay. New Mexico courts have discretion in awarding alimony and will consider several factors such as:
• Age and health of each spouse;
• Standard of living of each spouse;
• Income and earning capacity of each spouse;
• How self-supportive is receiving spouse;
• Length of marriage;
• The property/assets award;
• Mutual agreements between the parties.
Step 5 – Child Custody/Support: If you have children then you must be aware of the legal issues surrounding both custody and support.
Child Custody: If custody is contested the court the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor child. Mediation will be attempted to come to a custody resolution which involves a neutral third party guiding the process.
Factors Court Considers in Determining Custody: The court uses the standard “best interests of the child” in determining custody taking into account all relevant factors including, but not limited to: the child and each parent’s wishes; the relationships between the child and siblings, parents and other significant parties; the physical and mental health of all parties; and the child’s involvement in school and community with relation to where the child will reside.
Determining Child Support: New Mexico uses the “Income Shares” standard in calculating child support. That is, each parent’s income is divided by the total sum of both parents income to determine what percentage of support each parent pays. Child support tables dictate the level of support to be paid to the child.
Now that you have the basics of what you are facing in this decision to divorce, contact an attorney today. The lawyers at Lightning Legal Group are experienced family law practitioners ready to take on your case with great care and skill. Give us a call at 505-247-2390 for a free consultation.

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