Uncontested Divorce in New Mexico
There are two primary ways to terminate a marriage:
- A contested divorce is where the parties cannot agree on some aspects of their divorce, like property division, child custody and child support, spousal support, and others. In such a case, a couple will need to appear in court to ask the judge to make a decision for them.
- In contrast, an uncontested divorce occurs when the spouses are ready to resolve their disputes about property, spousal support, and child-related issues (like child custody and child support payments) out of court. To make their arrangements binding and enforceable, the spouses must memorialize them in a Marital settlement agreement, which will be incorporated into the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
Uncontested divorces are faster than contested ones since the New Mexico divorce process allows both spouses to file for divorce together and avoid the service of process. Besides, if the spouses file their Settlement Agreement for court approval, they may not need to attend a final hearing.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
DivorceOnline.com provides a quick and affordable tool to prepare the New Mexico divorce papers online, available for all couples seeking an uncontested divorce.
For just $139, our online divorce service helps select all the divorce documents required in your particular circumstances and complete them according to New Mexico courts' requirements, not just sell blank forms. Even though we do not provide legal advice, we strive to make preparing for the filing process more manageable for our users.
Getting your divorce papers online is very simple. All you need to do is answer the online interview questions and provide your details. The main advantage is that you can work with the questionnaire at your own pace, whenever and wherever it is comfortable for you. Once you complete the interview and have nothing to change, you will get your ready-to-file divorce forms in only two business days.
We provide only the relevant New Mexico divorce papers customized following New Mexico divorce laws. Our customers get comprehensive written instructions on filing the completed divorce forms in District Court in their specific county.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in New Mexico
The New Mexico divorce process involves several consecutive actions.
To start a divorce in New Mexico, either spouse must have resided within the state for at least six months before filing divorce documents with the court and have a "domicile" as defined by New Mexico Statutes.
New Mexico Family Law recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. In a fault divorce, the plaintiff (party initiating the case) claims the other party's misconduct that justifies ending the marriage. Fault-based grounds for divorce in New Mexico include:
- Abandonment, and
- Cruel and inhuman treatment.
Fault-based grounds for divorce must be proven before the judge, requiring additional effort and time. However, New Mexico courts do not consider fault in deciding child custody or determining either spouse's particular legal rights to property. Thus, almost every New Mexico divorce case is no-fault. The only no-fault ground for divorce New Mexico Family Law provides for is Incompatibility. In other words, this means that the spouses have irreconcilable differences that caused the marriage breakdown, and there is no hope for reconciliation.
To start a divorce, the petitioner (or both spouses together, if filing for an uncontested no-fault divorce) must fill out the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage along with the other court forms and sign them in front of a Notary Public. The completed divorce papers must then be filed with the local court clerk in the county where either spouse lives.
Divorce papers in New Mexico
The most common New Mexico divorce forms required in an uncontested dissolution include:
- Domestic Relations Information Sheet (4A-101)
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Without Children - 4A-102 / With Children - 4A-103)
- Verified Marital Settlement Agreement (4A-301)
- Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (Without Children - 4A-305 / With Children - 4A-306)
Additional divorce forms and documents may be required depending on the county, type of divorce (contested or not), having minor children, and various other circumstances of a particular couple.
If you are unsure which court forms are required in your case and would like to avoid paperwork hassles, DivorceOnline.com can come in handy.
When the spouses submit all the necessary legal forms with the District Court, they must pay a filing fee. In New Mexico, the court fee is about $135, varying slightly by judicial district. This court fee is mandatory unless the plaintiff is eligible for a waiver due to financial hardship. To ask the court to file for free, the plaintiff must complete the Application for Free Process (Form 4-222) and an Order for Free Process (Form 4-223).
In contested divorces in New Mexico, i.e., when the petitioner serves the other spouse with divorce papers, there is a 30-days waiting period between serving the respondent and the earliest the final judgment can be signed. However, in uncontested no-fault divorces, no mandatory waiting periods are required, given that the spouses file for divorce jointly.
Spouses filing for divorce jointly skip this step. Otherwise, the petitioner must serve the other spouse with a copy of the divorce petition in a court-approved manner. In New Mexico, the procedure of serving divorce papers can be accomplished in any of the following methods:
- by any person over the age of 18 who is not a party to the divorce proceeding delivering a court-stamped copy of the divorce petition to the respondent by;
- by hiring the county sheriff to deliver the papers personally (an additional fee is charged);
- by sending a court-stamped copy of the petition via certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested (for an acknowledgment of service).
New Mexico courts cannot enter a divorce decree until a reasonable parenting plan and adequate child support, alimony, and property arrangements are in place. As mentioned above, in an uncontested divorce, these terms are included in the Settlement Agreement. So, if the spouses have submitted their Agreement and all the other divorce papers are completed correctly, divorce can be finalized without a fuss. The spouses should ask the court clerk whether a hearing is required in their divorce case and, if so, obtain a court date from the clerk. Uncontested divorce hearings are relatively short and straightforward. The spouses have to bring all their documents, and the judge will review them and sign a Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
Getting a Divorce With Children
If the divorcing spouses have minor children, they may independently resolve all the related issues by creating a Parenting Plan. Otherwise, the court will order mediation, and if the parents still cannot reach an agreement, the court will decide child custody terms at its discretion. For that, the judge shall evaluate multiple factors, including:
- the child's and parents' mental and physical health;
- the child's relationship with each parent;
- the child's adjustment to their home, school, and community;
- the parents' wishes;
- the child's preferences regarding custody;
- each parent's willingness and ability to encourage the child's contact with the other parent;
- each parent's willingness and ability to meet the child's needs and cooperate with the other parent on issues regarding the child's needs;
- the geographic proximity between the parents' residences;
- any history of domestic violence and abuse.
Thus, both physical (care and supervision of a child) and legal (decision-making authority) custody must be decided following the child's best interest. In particular, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of a child unless proven otherwise.
As for child support, New Mexico follows the Income Shares Model. This concept implies that the child should receive the same portion of parental income that they would receive if the parents remained married. Thus, calculating the amount of child support in New Mexico, the parents' combined monthly gross incomes, number of children, child-related expenses, and visitation schedule that results from the divorce must be considered. In most cases, the child support obligation ends when the child turns 18 or 19 if the child still attends the high school.
The following additional legal forms and worksheets are provided for the divorcing parents:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage With Children (4A-103)
- Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage with Children (4A-306)
- Monthly Child Support Worksheet
- Child Support Guidelines
- Motion for Referral to Mediation (child custody, timesharing, or visitation) (4A-204)
- Motion for Referral to Mediation (child support or other financial issues) (4A-205)
- Custody plan and order (4A-302)
- Child Support Obligation and Order (4A-303)
Filing for Divorce in New Mexico Without a Lawyer
When the spouses reach an agreement out of court and do not desire legal advice, they can file their own uncontested divorce without the assistance of a law firm and reduce legal fees. However, to arrange your own divorce and avoid the potential risks and pitfalls, you should take care of the proper paperwork. Divorce mediation can be an excellent option to help spouses draw up a Settlement Agreement. And as for the rest of divorce papers, which can also be tricky for people without relevant experience, online divorce services provide a cheap alternative to flat-fee uncontested divorce attorneys.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in New Mexico
Online divorce doesn't mean just "to download blank forms." Instead, DivorceOnline.com provides a comfortable step-by-step process of selecting and completing your unique New Mexico divorce forms online. As a result, a user receives court-ready documents customized according to the couple's particular circumstances along with comprehensive filing instructions. Preparing your own divorce papers and forms online allows you to accomplish two goals at once. First, you save money, as lawyers charge about $1000 on average for uncontested cases in New Mexico (Divorce Online services cost just $139). And secondly, you save time as you do not need to grapple with paperwork by yourself, figuring out all the divorce rules, laws, and requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The length of the divorce process in New Mexico largely depends on whether the spouses contest the case. If the couple files an uncontested no-fault divorce together, the divorce can be finalized in about a month or even less, depending on the court's workload. If only one party files, the other spouse (the respondent) has 30 days to file an answer to the petition. Further, the length of a contested divorce depends on how many court hearings will be needed until the court can enter the divorce decree.
Generally, the cost of divorce is based on the length of the process and the amount of conflict. The average cost of divorce in New Mexico varies between $2500 and $8000. Lawyers' fixed rates for uncontested cases are about $1000-$1500. To lower the cost of divorce, the spouses can seek an uncontested divorce, which can sometimes be handled without an attorney, and resort to alternative dispute resolution methods or use online divorce services.
In general, divorce is not free in New Mexico due to mandatory court filing fees, not to mention other expenses. Still, if the petitioner cannot afford the court filing fee, they can apply to have it waived by filing the Application for Free Process and an Order for Free Process.
New Mexico divorce forms that the spouses may need to file in different circumstances include but are not limited to Petition of Dissolution of Marriage (With/ Without Children), Domestic relations information sheet, Verified Marital Settlement Agreement, Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, Affidavit for Entry of Default Divorce, Summons, Notice of Summons and Receipt of Summons, Return of Service of Process, Affidavit of Service by Mail.