New Mexico Divorce Process Overview

While there are certain steps necessary to obtaining a divorce and beginning the New Mexico divorce process that are common to all cases and a general flow that applies to every case, no one divorce proceeding is the same.

The length of time it takes to get a divorce and the different steps that have to be taken during that time can be greatly influenced by the parties negotiating and discussing ways to settle the issues in the case.

Cordell & Cordell New Mexico divorce attorneys typically encourage their clients to take charge of their divorce case and not allow the major decisions that will need to be made before the divorce is final to be left in the hands of a Judge who knows absolutely nothing about him and his family other than what he can read in court documents and what he hears during a brief period of testimony in the courtroom.

New Mexico Divorce Settlement

When parties are unable to work together to settle their differences, various methods of alternative dispute resolution are available to assist the parties in reaching a settlement.

Settling the issues in a divorce case without a trial saves the parties a great deal of time and money. This allows the parties to obtain the final divorce decree with as little disruption to their family as possible. It also minimizes the third party involvement of the courts in making decisions about a person’s life.

New Mexico Divorce Process

Although it is impossible to give a specific or detailed timeline of all of the steps that will comprise a particular divorce case, generally speaking, spouses can assume that at the very least the following will occur as part of the New Mexico divorce process:

  1. A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, a Summons, a Domestic Relations Information Sheet, and any Temporary Domestic Orders are filed with the court by one spouse (who throughout the divorce case is called the “Petitioner”).
  2. After the documents are filed and processed by the court and the divorce case is given a case number and assigned to a judge, the Petitioner is required to serve a copy of each of the documents on the other spouse (who throughout the divorce case is called the “Respondent”). This can be accomplished through the Sheriff’s Office, a process server, or by certified mail with a return receipt requested.
  3. Once the Respondent has been served with the documents, he or she is required to respond within 30 days of the date he or she was served. If the Respondent does not file a response, then the court will presume that the Respondent is not going to fight the divorce and will enter a default against the Respondent.
  4. Assuming the Respondent files a response, the parties go through a period of “discovery” which is the opportunity for the parties and their divorce attorneys to exchange documents regarding financial matters in the case and to gain information from the other party regarding where the parties stand on the various issues of the case, including child custody. Discovery can take the form of written questions to be answered under oath, subpoenas being issued to third parties, or depositions of either party or other relevant persons. During the discovery period, various motions might be filed to correct actions of the other party or to take control of various issues in the case that the parties are not able to agree to prior to the divorce being final.
  5. If the case does not settle either through the parties reaching their own agreement or through the help of a mediator or other third party, the case will go to trial and the parties will have the opportunity to provide evidence to the judge to substantiate their position. The judge will then weigh all the evidence and make a decision on all the issues in the case. A final divorce decree will be issued from those decisions.
  6. If the case does settle prior to having a trial, then the parties will submit a divorce settlement agreement and other documents to the judge for entry, and the judge will enter a divorce decree based on those agreements.

The most expensive and time-consuming parts of a divorce are the discovery period and trial. These are also the parts of the divorce case that can be most easily avoided by the parties communicating and working together to come to an agreement about child custody and timesharing, property division, and the financial matters involved in the marriage.

If at all possible, leave the decision-making about your children’s and your own futures in your hands – don’t leave it to the court’s gavel.

New Mexico Divorce Lawyer

If you are a man facing divorce in New Mexico, you should contact a New Mexico divorce lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. Cordell & Cordell Albuquerque divorce lawyers are licensed to practice throughout the state and are available for consultations should you seek additional information or possible legal representation. Please call 1-866-DADS-LAW or 505-767-7200 to schedule an appointment.