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The marriage rate in New Mexico was 15.3 per 1,000 women in 2021, according to federal data. Divorces also occur in the state, with a 6.3 rate in the same year. One of the causes of marriage dissolution in New Mexico is domestic violence. About 33% of men and 37% of women in the state experience some form of abuse, like stalking or sexual violence, from an intimate partner. 

If you are about to go through the process of divorce, it is important to learn how it works to minimize the stress that comes with uncoupling from your partner. This article explains the state’s no-fault system and shows the steps one might take as part of the divorce process. Additionally, this article lists resources that can help individuals receive the support they need to move on, especially after suffering from domestic abuse.

Is New Mexico a No-Fault State When It Comes to Divorce?

New Mexico is a no-fault state. Individuals seeking to divorce their partners in the Land of Enchantment do not need to cite a reason and may simply claim incompatibility to dissolve their marriage. State law further specifies that incompatibility can be present due to the conflict of personalities. This discord between both parties destroys the purpose of their marriage and, by extension, the chances of reconciliation between them.

Notably, New Mexico is not a true no-fault state. This is because it allows judges to grant divorces on various at-fault grounds. These include adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, and abandonment. The inclusion of fault-based grounds for divorce makes New Mexico’s divorce requirements different from those of Colorado, which allows divorce regardless of fault.

How to File for Divorce in New Mexico

The marriage dissolution process in New Mexico can be complex, depending on multiple factors. For instance, if both parties do not dispute areas like child custody or alimony, they face fewer requirements. If, however, the divorcing couple disagrees on a wide range of issues, then the list of requirements to finalize marriage dissolution is longer.

As such, one can decrease the distress associated with ending a marriage by learning the documents needed by New Mexico courts. Hiring a skilled attorney may also help diminish the roadblocks present in the divorce process.

State law permits divorce petitions for either party who has resided for a minimum of six months in New Mexico. Furthermore, they must have a domicile in the state. Domicile means that an individual must possess good faith to live in the Land of Enchantment indefinitely or permanently. They also need to own a place of residence and be physically present in New Mexico. 

Keep in mind that those filing for divorce are called petitioners. They are required to serve papers to their ex-spouse, also known as the respondent. 

Note that the forms listed below are used by individuals applying for divorce in the Second Judicial District Court. The court covers Bernalillo County, where the most populous city in the state — Albuquerque — is located. Documents applicable to other district courts are found on different web pages. One may access a directory of these courts online to view relevant divorce forms. Self-represented individuals can additionally refer to a self-help guide that contains hyperlinks to different documents. 

1. Complete and Submit the Required Forms

Petitioners need to submit various forms to start the divorce process. These include:

  • Summons: This document notifies the respondent that the marriage dissolution process has started. 

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: Through this document, petitioners ask the court to grant requests for concerns like alimony and child custody. The form also requests that the judge identify the community and separate property. There are different forms for couples with or without children.

  • Domestic Relations Information Sheet: This document provides the court with information about the petitioner and respondent, as well as their children, if they have any. 

The filing fee for divorce in New Mexico is $137. Petitioners may request to waive this fee by asking the clerk’s office if they qualify for the waiver.

2. Serve Paperwork to Other Party

The next step for the petitioner is to serve the respondent with copies of the divorce papers. Keep in mind that the person filing for divorce should not give the paperwork to their spouse themselves. Anyone 18 or older who is not a party to or involved with the divorce may serve divorce papers. These non-parties include sheriffs and private process servers. 

The costs of these vary. For example, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office charges a $40 fee. Meanwhile, an Albuquerque private process server might require between $40 and $50 in service fees. 

After receiving the divorce papers, the respondent must file a response within 30 days. This document allows them to agree or disagree with what the other party requests in their petition.

3. Request Temporary or Emergency Orders, if Necessary

Petitioners may submit Motions for Temporary Orders to the court. These documents help them request non-permanent solutions regarding issues like child support and property division. The form likewise allows petitioners to ask the court for a temporary order that allocates community resources — essentially marital assets — for attorneys’ fees.

If a petitioner is exposed to domestic abuse, they can also apply for a Temporary Restraining Order. Courts may grant such requests immediately if they determine the person filing will incur irreparable injury if the order is not issued straight away. This order is in effect for 10 days. 

4. Attend Co-parenting Classes, if Required

In divorce cases involving children, parents may be ordered by the court to agree on a parenting plan. Part of this plan is the need to consider co-parenting classes

There are numerous providers of co-parenting courses throughout New Mexico. One example is the Center for Divorce Education. Its Children in Between course may take at least four hours to complete and costs around $60. Another provider is Course for Parents. Its Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course is worth $85 for a 16-hour program. 

5. Undergo Mediation and Evaluation, if Necessary

Another potential hurdle that divorcing couples have to overcome is mediation. The party who believes that they and their ex-partner can come to an agreement may file a Motion for Referral to Mediation. Note that two different forms request mediation to resolve various issues. One addresses child support and other finance-related concerns. The other deals with child visitation, custody, and timesharing

Couples going through the divorce process in the Second Judicial District Court may be referred to the Family Court Clinic. By means of a Court Clinic Referral Order, the judge allows parties access to free mediation services from the Court Clinic. Sessions last from four to eight hours. 

Notably, referrals for consultations require payment. The fees depend on a party’s gross monthly income. For instance, those earning less than $1,206 per month pay $250 for an advisory consultation. Meanwhile, individuals with gross monthly incomes between $3,517.51 and $4,020 pay $1,500. 

An additional part of the divorce process for couples with kids is child custody evaluations. The district court may appoint the Court Clinic to oversee the evaluation. Both parties can also obtain the services of a 706 expert — a private custody evaluator — to speed up the process since it could take months to finish. The cost of the evaluation runs between $5,000 and $12,000. 

6. Request and Attend a Hearing, if Required

If disagreements remain between the divorcing couple, they may submit two forms to the court. These are the Request for Hearing and the Notice of Hearing.

The hearing is scheduled after the request has been filed. It takes several months to follow an individual’s request. There can be more than one hearing, depending on the number of disagreements between the couple.

Both parties need to complete other forms and bring them to their meeting with the judge. These are the Marital Settlement Agreement and the Final Decree of Dissolution. Note that there are two types of Final Decrees: one for couples with children and one for those without children.

If children are involved, the couple also needs to complete the Custody Plan, Child Support Worksheet, and Child Support Obligation and Order. Since the divorcing couple does not agree on these issues, the forms brought to hearings are essentially proposals.

7. Undergo the Discovery Process, if Necessary

Discovery is the process of understanding debts and assets, as well as how they were used during a marriage. If the divorcing couple has limited possessions or was married for a short time, then discovery is informal or unnecessary. 

However, formal discovery — which requires legal documents — is applicable in cases where the marriage is longer. Legal paperwork is also needed in situations where one spouse has unreasonable monthly expenses or excessive debts. Some documents that individuals can use to clarify their financial situation include tax returns, insurance policies, and pay stubs.

8. Finalize the Divorce Process

  • By default: If the respondent does not respond within 30 days after receiving the divorce papers, the petitioner may complete a Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Given that the other party did not reply, divorce can be finalized without their participation.

  • By agreement: If both parties agree on all marital issues, they can submit a completed Marital Settlement Agreement and Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage to the clerk’s office. If children are involved, the couple also needs to complete a Child Support Obligation and Order and a Custody Plan. They may or may not be ordered to attend a hearing. Remember that the judge can sign the Final Decree without further warning. Once this document is signed, the divorce is final.

  • By trial: After one or more hearings, the judge will decide the terms of the Custody Plan and the Child Support Obligation if the divorcing couple has children. Additionally, the court will finalize the terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement. If the couple does not have children, the judge only needs to work on the Agreement. Once the terms have been finalized, the court will sign a Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

How Property Is Divided in a New Mexico Divorce

New Mexico is a community property state. It shares this distinction with eight other states. Under a community property system, marital assets are divided equally. Given this, it is crucial to note the difference between community property and separate property. 

Separate property refers to assets and debts acquired before and after marriage. These also consist of assets received as inheritances. Additionally, debts from gambling expenses and student loans are separate property. These are generally not subject to property division. 

Community property, on the other hand, refers to debts and assets acquired during marriage. These are divided equally during divorce. Notably, New Mexico law specifies that quasi-community property is considered community property. Quasi-community assets refer to those acquired by a spouse living outside New Mexico, which could have been community property had the spouse bought the asset while domiciled in the state. Some types of community property include real estate properties, cars, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies.

Separate property can transform into community property if the former is combined with the latter. For instance, an inheritance deposited in a joint checking account may be considered community property if the funds are utilized for bills both parties pay as a married couple. 

Property division can be more difficult, especially if the divorcing couple had a long marriage. Therefore, obtaining legal advice from a skilled lawyer is crucial, especially in New Mexico, the third poorest state in 2021. 

New Mexico Divorce FAQs

This section provides answers to questions frequently asked by individuals seeking to know more about the divorce process in New Mexico. 

Legal Resources for Getting a Divorce in New Mexico

Starting the divorce process in New Mexico may be complex. Factors like domestic violence can further add to the difficulty of marriage dissolution. Fortunately, there are organizations in the state that support those going through or recovering from divorce.

New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission

The commission provides financial assistance for victims who have suffered from crimes like stalking or child abandonment. A maximum of $20,000 in benefits is accessible for eligible victims. Those who qualify must have been hurt because of a crime that occurred in New Mexico, and this offense should be reported to a law enforcement agency or medical provider. The amount covers a wide range of costs, from mental health counseling bills and dental care expenses to burial and funeral costs. Note that the commission does not extend coverage to expenses related to property damage and pain and suffering. One may start their application online. Residents in New Mexico can also reach the commission via email at or a toll-free call at 1-800-306-6262.

New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The coalition seeks to improve offender accountability and maintain survivor safety in the state through a coordinated community response. It oversees multiple programs that help domestic violence victims recover from abuse. These include Battering Intervention Programs and the Companion Animal Rescue Effort. It also offers financial empowerment services to victims and helps them rebuild their finances through solutions like credit repair and matched savings programs. New Mexicans seeking support from the coalition may contact the organization by phone at 505-246-9240. The hotline is accessible Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 

New Mexico Legal Aid

The organization seeks to advocate for and defend low-income New Mexicans who are looking to resolve their legal concerns. It supports multiple programs like Safe to Be You, a legal assistance initiative aimed at LGBTQ+ individuals who are victims of sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence. The organization also maintains a website that contains relevant links to resources like low-cost or free tax preparation programs. Individuals can contact the organization through its toll-free number: 1-833-545-4357.

New Mexico Human Services Department

The department seeks to promote and improve the security and independence of New Mexicans. It oversees the Child Support Services Division, which works to establish and enforce the obligations parents owe to their children. It can intercept income tax refunds and withhold wages to ensure that individuals required to pay child support comply with their agreements. The department also maintains a separate website,, to further assist parents looking to view and manage child support payments. One may use the website to check the requirements for child support applications in the state. Individuals can also apply in person at any of the field offices under the Child Support Services Division located throughout the state. 

The State Bar of New Mexico

Since 1886, the organization has been serving the public and the legal profession in New Mexico. It handles programs that help various individuals, including those going through divorce. One of these is the Modest Means Helpline, which gives those who are ineligible for assistance from the New Mexico Legal Aid a way to access legal help. One may contact the helpline at 888-857-9935 or 505-797-6013. It is open daily between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Another one of the group’s initiatives is the Legal Resources for the Elderly Program. It accepts calls from New Mexicans aged 55 or older, regardless of income. One can call the helpline at 1-800-876-6657 or 505-797-6005. The line is accessible from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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