Divorce in New Mexico: Everything You Need to Know

1 min readLast updated March 26, 2024by Unbiased team

Discover more about the process, costs and considerations of divorce proceedings in the state of New Mexico.

Summary

  • New Mexico recognizes both “fault-based” and “no-fault” divorces. 

  • Divorces can be uncontested or contested. There are also some alternatives available when going through a divorce, which are becoming more common, such as a collaborative divorce. 

  • The filing fee for a divorce in New Mexico generally ranges from $135 to $155.

  • A financial advisor can help you protect your finances through a divorce and develop a long-term plan to rebuild afterward. 

What are the different types of divorce in New Mexico?

New Mexico is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning you do not have to prove any wrongdoing in order to file for divorce. However, the state also allows for “fault-based” divorces, in which one spouse’s wrongdoing is blamed for the breakdown of the marriage. 

The state recognizes several types of divorce, each catering to different circumstances and needs of the parties involved. They include:

  • Uncontested divorce: In this type, both parties agree on all major issues, such as asset division, alimony, and child custody. It is the fastest and least expensive.

  • Contested divorce: In this process, spouses disagree on one or more key issues, requiring court intervention to resolve. It is more time-consuming and costly.

Some alternatives, such as collaborative divorces, are also available when going through a divorce, and they are becoming more common. 

This no-court alternative is a process where both parties, with their attorneys, agree to resolve their differences without going to court, focusing on negotiation and cooperation.

Couples can also opt to go for mediation. This is when a neutral third party helps the couple reach agreements on contentious issues outside of court, aiming for a mutually acceptable resolution.

How much does a divorce cost in New Mexico?

The cost of a divorce in New Mexico varies widely based on the complexity of the case and whether it is contested or uncontested. 

Some common costs to consider include:

  • Filing Fees: This is the initial cost of filing for divorce in New Mexico courts. These fees can vary by county but generally range from $135 to $155.

  • Attorney's Fees: Significantly affect the overall cost, especially in contested divorces. Rates can vary, with uncontested divorces costing significantly less than contested ones.

  • Additional Costs: These may include mediation fees, court costs for filing motions, and costs for obtaining necessary documents.

How do you file for divorce in New Mexico?

Filing for divorce in New Mexico involves a series of steps designed to ensure the process is clear and legally sound. 

Here's a streamlined guide:

  1. Meet residency requirements: To file for divorce in New Mexico, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing and have a domicile in New Mexico.

  2. Choose the type of divorce: You must then decide whether to file for a contested or uncontested divorce. 

  3. Prepare divorce papers: Next, you must complete the required forms to initiate your divorce. These may include a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and other documents depending on your circumstances, such as child custody or property division.

  4. File the papers: You then submit your divorce petition and accompanying documents to the district court in the county where either you or your spouse reside. You’ll need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county.

  5. Serve your spouse: After filing, you then need to provide your spouse with copies of the divorce papers, officially notifying them of the divorce action. This can be done via a process server, sheriff, or sometimes by mail with a waiver of service.

  6. Respond to the petition: Your spouse has 30 days to respond to the petition. They can either agree to the terms, dispute them or request modifications.

  7. Proceed to resolution: If uncontested, the court may issue a final decree without a hearing. For contested cases, mediation or a court hearing will determine the final terms.

  8. Finalize the divorce: Once all terms are agreed upon and approved by the court, the judge will issue a final decree of dissolution, officially ending the marriage.

How do you split assets in a divorce in New Mexico?

New Mexico's asset division during divorce follows community property rules, meaning all assets and debts gained during the marriage are equally owned by both spouses and split 50/50 at divorce. 

As with all processes involved in divorce proceedings, this follows multiple predetermined steps, including:

  1. Determine community property: First, identify which assets are considered community property (acquired during the marriage) and which are separate property (owned before the marriage, inherited, or received as a gift individually).

  2. Valuate assets: Accurately assess the value of all community property to ensure an equitable division. This may require professional appraisals for real estate, businesses, or valuable personal property.

  3. Divide equally: In New Mexico, the default approach is to split community property 50/50 between the spouses. This includes not only physical assets but also debts incurred during the marriage.

  4. Considerations for separate property: Separate property, unless commingled with community property, is not divided and remains with the original owner.

  5. Negotiated agreements: Spouses can agree to a different division of assets through negotiation or mediation. The court must approve such agreements.

  6. Court decisions: If spouses cannot agree, the court will make the final decision on how to divide assets, adhering to the community property principle but also considering factors like the economic circumstances of each spouse.

This streamlined approach aims for a clear and equitable distribution of marital property in New Mexico.

How does alimony work in New Mexico?

Alimony in New Mexico helps balance financial disparities post-divorce by providing income to a lower-earning spouse. 

However, alimony is never guaranteed. 

Eligibility depends on several factors, such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, the standard of living during the marriage, and the recipient's needs versus the payer's ability to pay.

There is also no set type of alimony. New Mexico recognizes multiple different types, including transitional, rehabilitative, and permanent. 

Each type, if awarded, is tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the divorcing couple. 

There's no strict formula for determining the amount and duration of alimony in New Mexico. Instead, the court considers factors like the age and health of both spouses, their current and future earning capacities, and the duration of the marriage.

Alimony arrangements can also be modified or terminated based on significant changes in circumstances, like a substantial increase or decrease in either spouse's income or the recipient's remarriage.

Alimony aims to preserve the living standards established during the marriage for both spouses.

What happens to children during a divorce in New Mexico?

During a divorce in New Mexico, children's interests are paramount, with the state emphasizing arrangements that best support their welfare. 

When determining child custody, the court prefers joint custody to keep both parents involved in the child's life but will decide based on the child's best interests. The court will consider factors like parental preferences, the child’s relationship with each parent, and, in some cases, the child’s wishes.

For child support, financial responsibility is shared between parents, calculated using a guideline that accounts for income, number of children, and custody details, ensuring the children's financial needs are met.

For divorces involving children, it is always preferred that the parents make decisions surrounding the children. Parents are encouraged to develop a parenting plan that details custody sharing and decision-making for the children, including living arrangements and schedules for holidays and vacations.

When parents can't agree, the court steps in to make decisions focused on the children's best interests, potentially including evaluations and mediation.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor suited to meet your needs. 

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Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.