Marital Settlement Agreement

While the divorce process can be stressful, if both parties are willing to work together to reach an agreement, the time, expense and stress involved can be substantially reduced.  The ultimate objective in any divorce is a Marital Settlement Agreement.

A good Marital Settlement Agreement is an agreement between the parties addressing all issues between the parties in the dissolution of their marriage.  The parties would be wise to reach agreement on all terms in the Marital Settlement Agreement.  The only other option is to leave it up the Court.  This is very risky and likely to leave both parties seriously disappointed with the outcome.

The parties can enter a Marital Settlement Agreement on their own.  It is not even necessary to have attorneys involved.  In fact, most courts throughout New Mexico, including Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, have forms available to assist the parties in the pro se (without attorneys) creation of a Marital Settlement Agreement.

The forms are very instructive and thorough addressing all aspects of the divorce.  Other than child custody and child support, the most contentious issues in a divorce are generally the division of property and debt, and alimony/spousal support.

In order to divide property and debt, it is first necessary to identify and allocate both community property and debt, and the separate property and debt.  Even where the parties will be seeking the assistance of a New Mexico attorney, the forms can be very helpful for each party’s understanding of these issues.  An early understanding of the law on the division of marital property and debt is important to avoid unnecessary conflict and unreasonable goals.

The court’s will also typically have the New Mexico Alimony/Spousal Support Guidelines available for the parties to review.  These are very helpful as well and each party would be well advised to review these early in the divorce process.  There are fairly detailed guidelines for alimony/spousal support eligibility.  Each party should understand these guidelines to avoid unreasonable expectations.

It is vitally important that the parties gain as much information as possible as they work toward the Marital Settlement Agreement.  Too often, the parties do not understand the law, their rights or their obligations.  This in turn leads to disagreement, conflict, and ultimately costly and emotionally stressful litigation. Worst of all, it leads to a loss of control of the parties to the court over what can be the most important decisions in the parties’ lives.

Though not always necessary, if possible, each party should seek the assistance of their own New Mexico attorney.  An experienced New Mexico divorce and family law attorney can help tremendously in moving this stressful process forward.  There is no better situation than to have experience and honest New Mexico divorce and family law attorneys on each side of the case.  Sadly, this seems like the exception rather than the rule.


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