Is it easy to file for a no-fault divorce?
Filing for a no-fault divorce in New Mexico can be relatively quick, cheap, and painless. These types of straightforward divorces involve a couple in agreement over all aspects of the divorce decree and a couple that is also aware of the minimum compliance they must fulfill when forming their divorce arrangements.
Completing a divorce, from the time a petition is first filed to the finalization of the divorce, takes an average of 180 days in New Mexico. That timespan includes the 30 day minimum waiting period required in between the petition and the hearing for the dissolution of the marriage.
While most aspects of a New Mexico no-fault divorce are easily managed, each spouse should still perform their own due diligence. They can consult with a New Mexico divorce lawyer to review their proposed arrangement, account for all legal obligations, and increase the chances that everyone will be satisfied with the outcome.
What Is an Uncontested, No-Fault Divorce in New Mexico?
New Mexico provides the groundless “incompatibility” reason for divorce so that a couple can request a divorce without needing to make specific provings. Filing for a divorce using “incompatibility” simply means that the couple cannot reconcile their differences and wishes to completely separate.
An “uncontested” divorce involves a couple who files for a no-fault divorce and who presents a single proposed arrangement for their final divorce decree. When someone has a different version of the divorce agreement that they would rather submit, then the divorce becomes contested.
A valid divorce decree will cover division of marital property and, if applicable, agreements for the following:
- Spousal support (for a demonstrated need)
- Child custody (must have children’s best interests in mind)
- Child support (must meet baseline standards in reference to state formulas)
- Parenting plan and timesharing arrangement (for co-parenting and visitation)
Prior to granting a divorce, a judge will review all of the components of the submitted divorce agreement proposal. If the components of the proposal meet the minimum standards of fairness, equity, and children’s best interests, then the proposed arrangements will be granted and included in the divorce decree.
The Process for Filing for No-Fault Divorce in New Mexico
A no-fault divorce will proceed through the following steps:
Validation of Residency
At least one spouse must have resided in New Mexico for at least six months or be stationed on a military base in the state as an active duty service member.
Filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
The formal name for divorce in New Mexico is “dissolution of marriage.” Either spouse can file the initial petition in their own district court or the district court where the other spouse resides.
The person who has not filed the petition must then receive notice of the petition. The petitioner can optionally serve the respondent (the other spouse) with notice and the appropriate paperwork using an Appearance and Consent form (form DNM-350). They can also send the paperwork via certified mail using a Summons and Notice of Summons form (form DNM-400 and form DNM-450). If, on the other hand, the petitioner wants to use a sheriff or process server, they will use a summons form (DNM-400) and a return form (DNM-500).
Filing of a Response
A recipient of a notice of dissolution of marriage cannot object to a divorce filed for “no-fault” incompatibility reasons. They can, however, object to the proposed terms of the divorce. They are allowed to do so using the provided response forms when served with notice of the petition.
For a smooth, uncontested divorce, the respondent will agree to all of the terms and conditions they are sent and will be willing to attend the upcoming hearing as scheduled.
Minimum 30-Day Waiting Period for Divorce
In New Mexico, a minimum of 30 days must pass between the day the respondent receives service of process (27 days if done via mail). However, because of the backlog of cases the court commonly deals with, it will take an average of 180 days between the response of the non-petitioner and the date of a hearing before a judge.
A presiding district court judge will review the proposed arrangement submitted by the couple. They will ask, at minimum, a few questions about the marriage and the proposed arrangements. If the arrangements all satisfy the minimum standards set by the state and the district, then the judge will approve of the proposed agreement and use it to constitute the divorce decree.
Cost of Filing for Divorce in New Mexico
As of 2021, it costs a $137 filing fee to obtain and submit the paperwork needed for divorce. There may be other court fees, as applicable, in addition to the costs of any legal representation either spouse obtained.
A New Mexico Divorce Lawyer Can Still Provide Valuable Help in an Uncontested Divorce
A primary concern for those hoping to get a smooth “no-fault” divorce over and done with is that their proposed arrangements may fail to meet the minimum standards of the district and the state. A division of property arrangement that is fully in one spouse’s favor, for example, is unlikely to get approved unless the couple can explain why they feel the arrangement is appropriate.
Components of the divorce decree affecting children must be able to indicate why the arrangement is in the children’s best interests. The state will not approve of any agreement that appears like it might put a child’s health, happiness, and well-being at risk.
Another common obstacle in “no-fault” divorces is that one spouse suddenly decides they aren’t ok with the proposed arrangement. In these cases, both spouses will have to return to the negotiation table so they can get things back on track.
In any case, working with experienced New Mexico divorce lawyers can help. Attorneys are familiar with the most-common arrangements couples use that have led to all parties being reasonably satisfied post-divorce. Hiring a lawyer can also help you catch critical mistakes, such as leaving the costs of children’s medical care and health insurance out of the proposed child support agreement and parenting plan.
Even in a “no-fault” divorce, there will be negotiations and important decisions to make. Work with New Mexico Financial & Family Law to ensure that all-important factors are examined so that the final divorce decree will be in everyone’s best interests.
We are here, ready to listen, and ready to help. Schedule a no-obligation case review today with New Mexico divorce attorneys near you when you call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online.