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Grounds for Divorce Under New Mexico Divorce Laws

A judgment of dissolution of marriage (which is just a fancy way of saying divorce) may be granted in the State of New Mexico on the following grounds:

  1. Cruel and inhuman treatment
  2. Adultery
  3. Abandonment
  4. Incompatibility due to discord or conflict of personalities such that the marriage is broken without any reasonable expectation of reconciliation

If you meet one of the four grounds listed above, you may move on to file a petition for dissolution of marriage. But before you do that, let’s talk about how and where to file.

Residency Requirements

New Mexico divorce laws require that at least one of the parties to the dissolution of marriage action must have been a resident of the State of New Mexico for at least six months immediately prior to the filing of the petition for divorce and must have a residence in New Mexico.

Where to File – Venue

The petition for dissolution of marriage may be filed in the county where either you or your spouse resides.  

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

The party that files for divorce is the Petitioner and the other one is called the Respondent. An action for dissolution of marriage is filed in the District Court. The action that begins the process is called the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and the action that ends the marriage is known as the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

Legal Separation

If a husband and wife have permanently separated and no longer live or cohabit together, either may institute proceedings in the district court for a division of property, disposition of children, or alimony, without asking for or obtaining in the proceedings, a dissolution of marriage. Basically, this means you must meet all the requirements of a full divorce but will not be legally divorced. You will also not be able to marry someone else while legally separated. You must first go through the process of divorce, even if you are already legally separated.

Property Division

Property acquired outside of the marriage is yours to keep. Any property acquired during the course of the marriage will be distributed among the parties, as the court deems equitable and just. Note that equitable does not mean the same thing as equal.

Alimony

Alimony is something one spouse must pay to the other in order to help the receiving spouse get back on his or her feet. So if you worked while your wife took care of the kids, this is something to consider when getting a divorce. The court in New Mexico may order either party to pay alimony to the other spouse as it deems just and proper, after consideration of the following factors:

  • The age, health, and means of support of the parties
  • The current and future earnings and earning capacities of the parties
  • The good faith efforts of the parties to maintain employment or become self-supporting
  • The reasonable needs of the parties
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The amount of property awarded to the respective parties
  • The type and nature of the parties’ respective assets and liabilities
  • Income produced by property owned by the parties
  • Any marital agreements entered into by the parties

Mediation

Either spouse may request mediation and the court may order mediation in cases involving contested custody issues. If you are ordered to participate in mediation, you must make every effort to reach a settlement with your spouse. To avoid delays, try to reach a settlement on all matters relating to children, as well as money, property, and other important matters. Couples who are able to reach a settlement on these matters will have less complications during the divorce process and are most likely to be satisfied with the results.  

Child Custody

In the process of a divorce, the court will decide the issue of custody of minor children according to the best interests of the child.  Factors the court will consider in determining the child’s best interests include:

  • The wishes of the child and the child’s parents as to custody arrangements
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to his home, school and community
  • The mental and physical health of all parties

In most cases it is assumed that joint custody is in the child’s best interests. Except in extreme circumstances, it is important for the child to have both parents in his/her life and to know that they both love him/her just as much now as they did before the divorce.

Absent any orders to the contrary, both parents shall have equal access to records pertaining to the child, such as medical, dental, or school records. 

Child Support

It is up to the court to determine the amount and duration of child support payments. There exist guidelines that establish the correct amount of child support to be paid.  Should the court deviate from the amount established in the guidelines, the judgment must contain a statement of the reasons for such deviation.

Medical insurance will also be included in any order of child support if reasonably available to either party.  

Name Change

Any person may petition the court for a change of name under New Mexico divorce laws.  The party seeking the change of name must publish a notice of the application for name change in a newspaper of the county in which the court resides. 

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