Albuquerque Divorce Lawyer
The average marriage that ends in divorce lasts almost eight years. As these years go by, most couples form complex emotional and financial bonds. These bonds are not easy to loosen. In addition to the issues these bonds involve, like child custody and spousal support, many people who go through a divorce also go through a grieving process. They may or may not be sorry their marriage is over. But they almost always grieve the loss of what might have been.
Because of these complexities, only the most experienced New Mexico divorce lawyer from Stratton Family Law should handle a marriage dissolution case in the Land of Enchantment. Even a procedurally simple marriage dissolution usually involves the aforementioned emotional and financial issues. Only a savvy lawyer can guide your case through the complex legal system, advocate for you along the way, and obtain a settlement that upholds your legal and financial rights.
How Much Will My Divorce Cost?
All divorces involve a financial and emotional cost. In almost all cases, the cost is worthwhile, but it’s probably higher than the petitioner (filing spouse) or respondent (non-filing spouse) anticipated.
In both areas, it’s almost impossible to estimate the cost. If a divorce settles quickly, the financial and emotional cost might be minimal. If the issues in a divorce, which are outlined below, are contentious, the financial and emotional cost could be astronomical.
Some other factors, mostly the length of the marriage and the spouse’s motivation to divorce, come into play as well. In general, the longer the marriage lasted, the more complex the emotional and financial issues become. If one spouse is ready to immediately move on, that spouse is like a motivated seller in a real estate transaction. Therefore, things usually happen faster in these cases.
What are the Issues Involved?
We mentioned the general emotional and financial issues in a divorce above. Now, let’s look at these issues closer up.
Under New Mexico law, child visitation and custody orders must be in the best interests of the children. Some factors to consider in these areas include:
- Current Informal Timeshare Arrangement: There’s an old saying that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. In a child custody context, even if the current informal timeshare arrangement has serious issues, retaining it is often better than starting over from scratch.
- Parental Fitness: Many adults have mental, emotional, physical, or other disabilities which prevent them from being effective parents. If that’s the case, the court often restricts parent-child contact accordingly. Onset or removal of a parental disability is often the subject of a motion to modify custody and/or visitation provisions.
- Parental Preference: Many parents express a residential or non-residential preference without knowing it. A parent who was a primary or exclusive caregiver during the marriage usually makes a good residential parent after a divorce. That’s especially true if the children are relatively young.
In terms of the timesharing agreement, most families go with the traditional every other weekend and every other holiday division. Alternatives are available which bring the timeshare division ration much closer to 50-50.
Financial issues usually include marital property classification and division, as well as spousal and child support matters.
New Mexico is an equitable division marital property state. The divorce cannot be an unfair financial burden on either party. Therefore, in some situations, a disproportionate property division is necessary. That’s especially true if one spouse, usually the wife, has a much lower future earning capacity or has custody of a seriously disabled child.
Usually, a legislative formula determines the amount of monthly child support payments. Since the Land of Enchantment is an income share state, this formula takes a number of different factors into account. The parents’ proportional income and the timeshare division are the two more prominent factors.
Alimony, or spousal support, is much more subjective. Several types of alimony are available in New Mexico, mostly depending on the needs of the obligee (person receiving support) and the ability to pay of the obligor (person receiving support).
How Long Will My Divorce Take?
Almost all divorce cases settle out of court. However, given the complex issues outlined above, very few divorces settle before they go through at least part of the judicial process.
Two or three weeks after the petitioner files for divorce, the judge usually holds a temporary hearing. Based on the available evidence, which is sketchy at this point, the judge makes interim decisions concerning child custody, child support, spousal support, and other matters. Legally, these orders expire when the judge closes the case. Generally, however, the preliminary orders are incorporated into the final orders.
If the case remains unresolved after discovery, which gives each side a chance to review the other side’s case, the judge usually orders the parties to attend mediation. During this court-supervised negotiation session, a third-party mediation ensures that each side negotiates in good faith. As a result, family law mediation usually succeeds, even if settlement negotiations have broken down.
Marriage dissolutions are complex, but we make them as simple as possible. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Bernalillo County, contact Stratton Family Law. Virtual visits are available.