Divorce Law in New Mexico: An Overview

A divorce is a method of terminating a marriage contract between two individuals. From a legal standpoint, a divorce will give each person the legal right to marry someone else, divide the couple’s assets and debts and determine the future care and custody of their children, if any.

New Mexico is a community property state. That means that all property acquired during the marriage is owned by both husband and wife. Property acquired before marriage, or by gift or inheritance during the marriage, is generally considered separate property and not community property.

If you are facing the daunting task of asset division in an upcoming New Mexico divorce, you need an experienced family law attorney. Bernard Rosenblum has the experience, knowledge, and skill to make sure his clients best interests are represented when it comes to determining property value, tracing assets, and appropriately characterizing and dividing property in divorce settlements.

Under New Mexico law, the court is required to divide the parties’ community property equally between them and award each party his or her separate property. The process of determining what property is community and what is separate is called “characterization” of the property.

Generally, all property acquired by a married person during the marriage is treated as community property, regardless of which spouse’s earnings paid for it. Each spouse may also have separate property, which consists of all property owned by the spouse before marriage, all property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift or inheritance, and income from separate property.

It often happens that community and separate property are mixed together, in which case characterization can become complex. For example:

  • the parties purchase a house in their joint names. The downpayment is from the separate property of one spouse, but they make mortgage payments from their joint earnings
  • an employee is granted stock options by an employer that vest over time but, before the vesting period expires, the employee either gets married or becomes separated
  • a person started a small business before marriage and continued to work in the business after marriage

In these cases, after presented with the evidence, the court must determine each party’s respective separate and community interest in the property. Having an experienced divorce attornety represent you in this matter is a wise investment.

Utilizing Mr. Rosenblum’s detailed knowledge and understanding of New Mexico property law, he can analyze the character of property and determine the best approach to establishing a favorable characterization of the property in settlement negotiations, and in court. Where necessary, he will also arrange for an appraisal of property or other evaluation of assets’ market value and will work with you to determine a division of the property in your best interests.

Bernard Rosenblum, and his associates, have experience with various types of property law issues that arise in the Albuquerque / Santa Fe / Los Alamos areas, including those concerning stock options and employment benefits, intellectual property, and contributions of both community and separate property to acquire a home or investment property. Each case is prepared thoughtfully and thoroughly to ensure we have all the information to prepare for settlement negotiations. If your case cannot be resolved through negotiation, Mr. Rosenblum is ready and willing to aggressively advocate on your behalf in court.

Before a divorce may be granted, there are usually five basic issues that must be resolved. They are:

  1. Alimony or spousal support;
  2. Property division; and, if there are children:
  3. Custody;
  4. Visitation;
  5. Child Support.

If a divorcing couple agrees on all five of these issues in writing, they will be granted an uncontested divorce and avoid adversarial divorce litigation. Conversely, if there is disagreement on any of the basic issues, a contested divorce exists. When a divorce is contested, the couple may proceed through all phases of litigation including trial before a family court judge. The couple may also voluntarily seek alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative divorce or they may be ordered by the court to do so. It is important to consult with an attorney before deciding which method is right for your situation. With his extensive experience in divorce law, Bernard Rosenblum, will fight for you! You deserve to have someone strong in your corner.