NM Divorce Laws

Divorce in New Mexico

In New Mexico, divorce falls under the jurisdiction of family law, which is designed to protect the rights and interests of all parties involved, including spouses and any children. One key aspect of divorce law in New Mexico is that it operates on a no-fault basis, meaning that neither party needs to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. This can help streamline the process and reduce conflict.New Mexico divorce

New Mexico Divorce Requirements

Each state has different residency requirements for how Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) may proceed. In New Mexico individuals filing for divorce are required to be state residents for a minimum of six months prior to filing for divorce. Those who are serving in the United States military and are stationed in New Mexico are considered state residents after this six-month time period.

If the individuals involved in the divorce live in different counties in the state of New Mexico, either individual may petition for divorce in his or her county of residency. Individuals are also allowed to petition for divorce if only one spouse resides within the state. All residency time limits must first be met before a case can be filed to a New Mexico county district court.

Filing with the Court in New Mexico

You must file your New Mexico divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in New Mexico are listed below:

  • Bernalillo County Courthouse:
    400 Lomas Blvd N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87102 Phone: 505-841-7451
  • Santa Fe County Courthouse:
    2052 Galisteo St., Santa Fe, NM 87505 Phone: 505-984-9914 ext. 124 Fax: 505-986-5866
  • Sante Fe County Courthouse:
    100 Catron Street, P.O. Box 2268, Santa Fe, NM 87505 Phone: 505-476-0189
  • Don Ana County Courthouse:
    201 West Picacho, Suite A, Las Cruces, NM 88005 Phone: 505-523-8283 Fax: 505-523-8290
  • McKinley County Courthouse:
    201 West Hill, Room 21, Gallup, NM 87301 Phone: 505-863-6816 Fax: 505-722-9172
  • Chaves County Courthouse:
    400 N. Virginia, P.O. Box 1776, Roswell, NM 88202-1776 Phone: 505-622-2565 Fax: 505-624-9506

If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.

Grounds for Divorce Filing

When going through a divorce in New Mexico, it is crucial to understand the grounds for divorce that are recognized by the state. The grounds for divorce refer to the legal reasons that justify the dissolution of a marriage. In this section, we will delve into the various grounds for divorce in New Mexico, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the options available.

New Mexico is considered a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that neither party is required to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. The most common ground for divorce in New Mexico is the “incompatibility” of the spouses, which simply means that the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no reasonable chance of reconciliation.

Alternatively, New Mexico also recognizes other grounds for divorce, including:


This occurs when one spouse intentionally leaves the marital home without a valid reason and without the consent of the other spouse for a continuous period of at least one year.


If one spouse engages in extramarital affairs, it can serve as a valid ground for divorce. However, it is important to note that the court may consider the impact of adultery on matters such as property division and alimony.

Cruel and inhuman treatment

This ground for divorce encompasses physical, emotional, or psychological abuse inflicted by one spouse upon the other. It is crucial to provide evidence to support such claims.

Felony conviction

If one spouse has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to imprisonment for a period of at least one year, the other spouse may seek a divorce based on this ground.


In New Mexico, spouses can also obtain a divorce based on a period of separation. If the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least six months without cohabitation and reconciliation, a divorce can be granted.

Process of filing for divorce in New Mexico

Filing for divorce can be a complex and emotional process, and understanding the specific requirements and steps involved in New Mexico is crucial. To initiate the divorce proceedings in New Mexico, either you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months before filing.

In New Mexico, the divorce petition, also known as the “Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage,” is the initial document that needs to be filed with the appropriate court. This document outlines the grounds for divorce, such as irreconcilable differences or adultery, and includes details about child custody, division of assets, and alimony, if applicable.

Once the divorce petition is filed, it must be served to the other spouse, who then has the opportunity to respond within a specified timeframe. If both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce, they can file a joint petition, simplifying the process.

In New Mexico, the courts encourage mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method. This involves both parties meeting with a neutral mediator to discuss and negotiate the terms of their divorce settlement. Mediation can help save time, and money, and reduce the stress associated with a contested divorce.

If mediation does not result in a resolution, the case will proceed to trial. At trial, each party presents its arguments and evidence, and a judge makes the final decisions on child custody, division of assets, and other pertinent matters.

Divorce Documents

A single divorce can include as many as twenty documents, which also depends on the divorce’s circumstances and any subsequent children. All documents will be filed to the court clerk’s office and then will later be presented at the designated hearing.

The documents can include:

  1. an Affidavit Concerning Child Custody form
  2. a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage form
  3. a Waiver and Consent form
  4. a Parent Plan and Child Support Obligation form
  5. a Domestic Relations Information Sheet
  6. a Financial Affidavit form
  7. an Appearance form

Property Distribution

The state of New Mexico is known as a community property state where all the property that was acquired through the marriage–no matter the length of the marriage–will be divided evenly between the individuals.

New Mexico follows the concept of community property, which means that assets acquired during the marriage are generally considered joint property. However, there are exceptions, such as inheritances or gifts received by one spouse, which may be considered separate property.

If the individuals involved in the divorce cannot divide the property themselves, the court will then divide the property equally–fifty, fifty–between the two. However, each individual is allowed to keep any property that was acquired prior to the marriage. All property is to be classified into different groups of how it was obtained.

The first step in asset division is identifying all marital assets. This includes real estate, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, vehicles, and any other property acquired during the marriage. It is crucial to gather all relevant financial documents and records to ensure accurate valuation and identification of assets.

Once the marital assets are identified, their value needs to be determined. This may require the assistance of professionals such as appraisers or financial experts who can accurately assess the worth of certain assets, especially complex ones like businesses or valuable artwork.

After determining the value of the assets, the court considers several factors to decide how they will be divided. These factors may include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, contributions made by each spouse to the acquisition of the assets, and the needs of each party.

Child custody and visitation rights in New Mexico divorces

When going through a divorce in New Mexico, one of the most crucial aspects to consider is child custody and visitation rights. The well-being and best interests of the children involved should always be the top priority. Understanding the laws and regulations surrounding child custody and visitation rights in New Mexico is essential to ensure a fair and smooth process.

In New Mexico, the court aims to promote joint custody and shared responsibilities between parents whenever possible. This means that both parents are encouraged to participate in making decisions regarding their child’s upbringing, education, healthcare, and other important aspects of their lives. However, the court will make decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests, taking into account various factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, their physical and emotional needs, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving environment.

New Mexico follows the principle of “reasonable visitation,” which means that both parents are generally entitled to spend time with their children. Visitation schedules can be agreed upon by the parents themselves or determined by the court if an agreement cannot be reached. It is important to note that the court may consider factors such as the child’s age, school schedule, and the proximity of the parents’ residences when establishing visitation arrangements.

In cases where there are concerns about the safety or well-being of the child, the court may impose certain restrictions or conditions on visitation rights. This could include supervised visitation, where a neutral third party is present during visits to ensure the child’s safety, or the requirement for a parent to complete parenting classes or counseling.

Spousal support (alimony) in NM Divorces

In New Mexico, the court takes several factors into account when determining whether spousal support should be awarded and how much should be paid. These factors include the duration of the marriage, the age and health of the parties involved, the income and earning capacity of each spouse, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

Spousal support in New Mexico is not automatically granted in every divorce case. The court considers the financial needs of the receiving spouse and the ability of the paying spouse to provide support. The goal is to ensure that the receiving spouse can maintain a reasonable standard of living post-divorce.

The duration of spousal support payments can also vary. In some cases, the court may order temporary support for a specific period of time to allow the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient. In other cases, long-term or permanent spousal support may be awarded, especially if the receiving spouse is unable to adequately support themselves due to factors such as age, disability, or lack of job skills.

New Mexico Child Support Guidelines and Calculations

In New Mexico, child support calculations are based on the “New Mexico Child Support Guidelines,” which take into account various factors such as each parent’s income, the number of children involved, and the amount of time each parent spends with the children. These guidelines aim to ensure that children receive adequate financial support from both parents, taking into consideration the needs and best interests of the child.

The first step in determining child support is to calculate each parent’s gross monthly income. This includes income from all sources, such as salaries, wages, tips, bonuses, and even self-employment earnings. It is important to disclose all sources of income accurately to ensure a fair calculation.

Once the gross monthly income of each parent is determined, the next step involves subtracting certain deductions, such as taxes, health insurance premiums, and mandatory retirement contributions. These deductions help determine the net income of each parent, which is the basis for calculating child support.

New Mexico follows an income-share model, where both parents are responsible for financial support based on their respective incomes. The guidelines provide a table that outlines the basic child support obligation based on the combined net income of both parents and the number of children involved. This table helps determine the amount of child support that should be paid.

In addition to the basic child support obligation, the guidelines also consider other factors, including the cost of childcare, healthcare, and other extraordinary expenses related to the child’s well-being. These additional expenses are typically divided between the parents based on their respective incomes.

Mediation and alternative dispute resolution

Various options are available for resolving disputes outside of the courtroom. Mediation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods have gained popularity in recent years for their ability to provide a more amicable and collaborative approach to divorce proceedings.


Mediation involves a neutral third-party mediator who facilitates communication between divorcing spouses. The mediator helps guide discussions and assists in reaching mutually acceptable agreements on various aspects of the divorce, such as child custody, property division, and spousal support. Unlike a judge, the mediator does not make binding decisions but rather helps the parties find common ground and reach a resolution that works for both parties.

One of the key advantages of mediation is that it allows divorcing couples to maintain control over the outcome of their divorce. Rather than leaving the decisions in the hands of a judge who may not fully understand their unique circumstances, mediation empowers couples to make informed decisions that best suit their individual needs and priorities.

Collaborative divorce

In addition to mediation, New Mexico offers various ADR options, including collaborative divorce and arbitration. Collaborative divorce involves a team approach, with each party having their own attorney and other professionals, such as financial advisors or child specialists, who work together to find mutually agreeable solutions. This process emphasizes open communication and cooperation between the parties and their respective legal teams.


Arbitration, on the other hand, involves a neutral third-party arbitrator who acts as a private judge. The arbitrator reviews the evidence and arguments presented by each party and makes a legally binding decision. This option can be particularly beneficial for couples who prefer a more private and expedited resolution to their divorce.

FAQs about New Mexico Divorce

How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce in New Mexico?

In order for the court to consider your case, you must have been living in separate residences for at least six months.

What is a wife entitled to in a divorce in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, both spouses are generally eligible for spousal support (which includes alimony), child custody and visitation rights, and potential division of marital property.

What are the rules for divorce in New Mexico?

The general requirements for getting divorced in New Mexico are that either party must be a resident of the state, there must be grounds for divorce (such as adultery or abandonment) and the couple must have been separated for six consecutive months.

Is NM a 50-50 state for divorce?

No, New Mexico is an equitable distribution state which means that the court will divide any marital assets and debts in a manner it deems fair, but not necessarily equal.

Does New Mexico require separation before divorce?

Yes, the two parties must have been living separately for at least six consecutive months before filing for a divorce in New Mexico.

How much is a divorce in New Mexico?

Divorce costs vary depending on the complexity of the case, but generally range from around $2700 to $8,200.

How many years do you have to be married to get alimony in NM?

Generally speaking, courts grant alimony only if the marriage lasted more than three years. However, this is subject to change based on special circumstances and the court’s discretion.

Does my wife get half my money in a divorce?

Not necessarily. As mentioned above, New Mexico follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing assets and liabilities during a divorce. This means the court will divide marital assets in a manner it deems fair and just, but not necessarily equal.

Is spousal support mandatory in New Mexico?

No, spousal support is not mandatory in New Mexico. However, if deemed appropriate by the court, one party may be ordered to pay spousal support to the other upon dissolution of the marriage.

Who gets the house in a divorce in New Mexico?

If the marital residence is owned by both parties, the court will determine which spouse should receive ownership of the home based on factors such as financial need and their ability to support themselves post-divorce.

Does it matter who files for divorce first in NM?

No, it does not matter who files first as all states recognize no-fault divorces.

What is the fastest way to get a divorce in New Mexico?

Filing an uncontested divorce is typically the fastest way to dissolve a marriage; however, it depends on whether both parties can come to an agreement about important issues such as division of property and spousal support.

Does adultery affect divorce in New Mexico?

Yes, adultery can play an important role in determining things like spousal support and the division of property.

How is alimony determined in New Mexico?

Alimony amounts are determined based on numerous factors including income disparities between spouses, length of marriage, and contributions made by each party during the marriage.

Do both parties have to agree to a divorce in New Mexico?

No, only one party needs to file for the dissolution of a marriage. The other party has the right to challenge any proposed settlement; however, if they fail to do so, then the court will issue its ruling without their agreement.

Finding the right divorce attorney in New Mexico

Start by researching attorneys in your area who specialize in family law and have expertise in handling divorce cases. Look for attorneys who have a strong track record of success and positive client reviews. You can also ask for recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have been through a divorce and had a positive experience with their attorney.

When meeting with potential attorneys, be sure to ask about their experience specifically with New Mexico divorce laws. It’s important that they are familiar with the local court system, judges, and procedures. Ask about their approach to divorce cases and how they will advocate for your best interests.

In addition to experience and expertise, find an attorney who you feel comfortable working with. Divorce can be an emotional and stressful process, so it’s essential to have open and honest communication with your attorney. Trust your instincts and choose an attorney who listens to your concerns, answers your questions, and provides personalized attention.

Keep in mind that hiring a divorce attorney is an investment in your future and the outcome of your case. While cost is a factor to consider, it’s important to prioritize quality and experience over the cheapest option. Remember, a skilled attorney can help protect your rights, navigate complex legal issues, and ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.

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