Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer to Get a Divorce in New Mexico?
There is no law in New Mexico that says a person must hire a lawyer to get a divorce. For many people, it makes sense to hire a lawyer, but for others, doing it themselves is a realistic and affordable option. At DivorceNM.com, we can help you decide which option is the best for you. If you decide that doing it yourself is the way to go, we can support you through this process. We offer consultations with expert attorneys who can offer advice and guidance on how to file your case and represent yourself at a fixed cost. You will never receive an unexpected bill for our services.
Divorce does not have to be a hard process. There are always issues that arise in a divorce. When there are no disputes about these issues, the process becomes simpler and easier for everyone involved. If you and your spouse are in agreement on the issues that will come up, or if the two of you can come to an agreement, it makes sense to save the expense of a lawyer and learn how to do the divorce pro se. Even if you cannot agree on everything, mediation may help resolve those disputes.
When you do your divorce yourself, it will be up to you make sure that all of the issues are addressed. There are five categories of issues that can arise in a divorce: children, child support, alimony, property division, and liabilities.
Children. If you and your spouse have no children together, or if your children are adults, there are no child-related issues to decide. When children are involved, the court will consider things like child support, custody, and visitation. If you have minor children, you and your spouse will most likely share joint custody of your child or children, and be required to enter into a joint custody arrangement. New Mexico law assumes joint custody is in the best interest of children, so that is what the court will order unless there is a good reason not to. If you don’t think joint custody is in the best interest of your child, you will have to prove that claim to the court. Depending on where you live, you may be required to go to court-sponsored mediation to work out your parenting plan. This plan will include important points like paying child support, and deciding the amount of time a child lives with each parent (“timesharing”). Click-here for more information about Joint Legal Custody vs. Sole Legal Custody.
Child Support. Child support is a separate issue from custody, although your timesharing arrangement could affect the amount of support that has to be paid. Child support is not a matter that is left entirely to you and your spouse. The State of New Mexico has detailed requirements for the calculation of child support. The amount of child support that will be ordered is based on the gross income of both parents, the number of children involved, work-related childcare expenses, health and dental expenses, and the amount of time each child spends with each parent. There might also be adjustments made for a child’s unusual medical, dental, or counseling expenses, for extraordinary educational expenses, or for transportation or travel expenses for long-distance visitation or timesharing. Click-here for more information about our online New Mexico Child Support Calculator, as well as our DivorceNM app available through iTunes and GooglePlay.
Alimony. Alimony consists of payments made to a divorced spouse as required by a divorce decree. Alimony is different from child support because it is based on the idea that a husband and wife must support each other. A court may order an individual to pay alimony based on the circumstances, taking into consideration a variety of factors such as how long the couple has been married, how much money each individual is likely to make in the future, and if either party has any specific needs (such as health issues) which have a higher financial expense. Click-here to learn more about Alimony.
Property Division. New Mexico is a community property state. That means that, as a general rule, any property you or your spouse acquire while you are married belongs to both of you jointly. Community property is to be divided as equally as possible. If you don’t own a lot of property, or if the property you do own is not community property, property division is not going to be an issue. If you do own property—cars, bank accounts, real estate—you and your spouse could work out for yourselves how you want it to be divided. If the two of you haven’t been living together for a time, you may already have done this. If not, each of you may have a good idea of how to divide things up. If everything has been divided, or if the two of you have already come to an agreement on how to divide what you do own, taking care of the divorce yourself should be straight forward. Click-here to learn more about Property Division.
Liabilities. The debts you and your spouse incurred while you are married are also items to be divided as community debt. You need to take care that no one is given an unfair share of your liabilities.
The steps for a self-represented divorce are fairly straightforward. You have to bring the action in the district court in the county in which either you or your spouse live. The action starts when the case is filed. After filing, the papers are served and the other spouse has 30 days to make a formal response. Note that, if your spouse files the action, and you don’t respond, your spouse will get a judgment by default. That means you will lose your right to contest or object to anything that happens in the action, including property division or child custody.
If at any point in this process you feel that you need the help of an attorney, consider scheduling a consultation with one of our family law attorneys. Our attorneys can explain the entire process, including how to file an application, how the divorce is finalized, and what decisions must be made by you and the other party. To schedule a consultation, click here.