Family Law

Family Law

Family attorney in New Mexico

Unfortunately, most people only see a family lawyer New Mexico under unpleasant circumstances. The bulk of our family law work is divorce cases and related issues of property division, child custody, and child support.

Divorce in New Mexico

First, you need to understand that New Mexico will only grant divorces if one of the spouses has lived in New Mexico for at least six months. It does not matter where you were married, though.

New Mexico has both fault and no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce is a relatively new concept that was created in California in 1969 and spread to New Mexico in 1973. Before then, a couple could only get divorced if one spouse did something wrong. New Mexico’s remaining fault grounds for divorce are cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, and abandonment. You can still seek a divorce for one of these reasons, but it is rarely worth the effort.

Today, most people seek divorce on grounds of “incompatibility.” In the law, that means that “because of discord or conflict of personalities, the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship are destroyed preventing any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.” In other words, each spouse wants to go their separate way even though neither one necessarily did anything “wrong.”

You should not confuse “no-fault” and “uncontested” divorce. It is true that some no-fault divorces are simple. Recent research shows that 29% of households have less than $1,000 in savings. That means for many couples, a divorce is as easy as splitting up their savings account and moving out of their apartment. They may even choose to hire one lawyer to help them finalize the divorce together.

A no-fault divorce can be highly contentious, though. The divorce itself is not actually difficult. The difficult part is settling on related issues. A divorce case proceeds a lot like any other court case. The spouse seeking a divorce will first file a petition asking for a decree of dissolution of marriage and custody, support, and property if applicable. The other spouse will then have a chance to respond. If necessary, there will be a period of “discovery” where each spouse can request information from the other one. Most couples will come to an agreement on their divorce at some point in this process, but if they do not, then the divorce will go to a trial where each couple will bring witnesses and documents to help make their case to the judge.

Property division in divorce

When you are married, everything you own is classified as either (1) separate property or (2) community property. Separate property includes everything you had before marriage, any gifts given directly to you during the marriage, and any inheritance you have received. New Mexico will also uphold a written agreement that designates some of your property as separate.

Anything that is not a separate property is community property, and you must split community property during a divorce. The split is almost always 50/50, but one spouse can seek to adjust the division. One spouse may seek more of the property because the other one was spending money on a mistress, for example. Couples also often have disputes over whether something is community property. For example, a classic car that one spouse brought into the marriage and invested a bunch of time and money in, could go either way.

A spouse can also seek support, or what many states would call alimony, in some circumstances. The law lays out some goals of spousal support. One goal is rehabilitation. Another is transitional to help one spouse get back on his or her feet. A lump sum payout of separate property can also be ordered if the judge thinks it would be fair.

Child custody and support

Child custody and support issues can come up anytime you have parents living apart. The first step to getting support from your child’s other parent is to establish legal parentage. Establishing a child’s mother is usually obvious. Establishing fatherhood is a bit more complicated. New Mexico, like other states, has a long list of things that can make someone the legal father of a child. This includes things like being the mother’s husband at the time of birth or claiming paternity at the time of birth. Of course, in a parentage dispute, DNA testing can come into play.

Once someone is established as the parent of the child, he or she is given some serious legal rights and responsibilities. The responsibility of supporting a child is perhaps the most important. New Mexico law presumes that joint custody is best for children. Both spouses are responsible for supporting the child, and the parent that has less money and/or has the child more can get financial assistance from the other parent.

Find the best family attorney near me

Shaharazad McDowell Booth has spent seven years in the courtrooms of this state prosecuting criminal, including those that committed crimes against mothers and families. She has the experience needed to get you through a divorce, and you can call today at 575-323-8233 for a consultation today.

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