No Fault Divorce

The process of obtaining a divorce in New Mexico is quite different from that of some other states.  Though there are many states that now follow no-fault divorce rules, and others have moved or are moving toward it, New Mexico has long been a no-fault state.

Under New Mexico‘s “no-fault” divorce rules, a petition for divorce may be filed with no reason other than incompatibility.  In fact, this is the norm, and even when fault is alleged, it will not be considered except in very limited circumstances.  Additionally, only one party needs to plead incompatibility for the courts to begin the divorce process.

This is intended to reduce conflict over issues that are largely irrelevant to the division of property and debt.  In practice, for example, family law judges will not hear arguments about infidelity by one party (unless it directly affects a child custody issue or some aspect of property and debt division such as gambling addictions).  Nor will the court entertain counter-arguments as to incompatibility.

Of course, the no-fault rules are procedural rules.  They do not stop human nature.  Many divorces have long simmering conflict and hostilities that the parties cannot let go.  Many times, it is these topics that dictate the course of the divorce.  In other words, a relatively simple divorce can turn to a high conflict, high stress and high attorney fee case when the parties cannot accept the no-fault premise.

It is best to leave these issues out of the division of property and debt.  There may be some character issues that need to be addressed in child custody and time-sharing, but this is independent of the division of property and debt.  And there may be occasions where character or dishonesty do affect the division of property and debt.  But these instances are rare.

Divorce can be a long, stressful and expensive process under the best of circumstances.   It is best to keep character and fault out it unless it is absolutely necessary (and legal and relevant) to bring it in.

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