In New Mexico, the divorce process begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the District Court of the County where one or both spouses have lived for at least six months prior to that filing. In order for the Courts of New Mexico to have jurisdiction over the case, one of parties must have lived in the State for at least six months.
While there are multiple grounds on which the Court can grant a divorce, New Mexico has what is often referred to as a “no fault” divorce policy, which means that the Court will grant a divorce based solely on the incompatibility of spouses. The vast majority of divorces in New Mexico are granted on the basis of incompatibility.
The Petition is a basic document, in which one spouse requests the Court enter an order dissolving the marriage. The Petition must include the following information: the date of the marriage; the names and ages of any children born to the marriage; and the date of the separation of the spouses. Primarily, the Petition also asks the Court to: divide and distribute the spouses‘ community property and community debt; identify and award any separate property and separate debt; determine child custody of any children born the marriage; determine child support for those children; and, award spousal support, also called alimony, if appropriate.
In most cases, after the filing of the Petition begins the process, the other major documents left to be filed with the Court are called: the Marital Settlement Agreement, often referred to as an MSA; the Parenting Plan; and, the Final Decree. The MSA is a detailed agreement that identifies and divides the community property and debt of the parties. The Parenting Plan, which is often incorporated into the MSA, specifically outlines custody and visitation arrangements for any children born to the marriage and will include a Child Support Worksheet explaining how child support will be paid between the spouses. The Final Decree is the final order of the Court adopting the contents of the MSA and Parenting Plan and granting the spouses a divorce.
Of course, in a complicated and/or contentious divorce there can be countless other documents filed with the Court as the spouses try to settle the issues division of property and debt, alimony, child custody and child support. There may be many other issues along the way such as domestic violence and orders of protection.
However, every divorce action will begin with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and end with some final order of dissolution of the marriage. There are many possible roads from one point to the other. The shortest and least contentious route is generally the best for the parties, the children and if that is not enough, the parties‘ money.
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