The average length of a marriage in the United States is eight years.  However, it is estimated that nearly 20% of married couples divorce within the first five years.  Oftentimes, first comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes the crushing realization that happily ever after doesn't always end up happily ever after.  Many things such as religious factors, in-laws, financial concerns, personality differences, and a simple lack of communication can all contribute to the demise of a marriage in the early stage.  So how does the length of your marriage affect your divorce?  Whether you are married for a month, a year or many years, emotional divorce still hurts.  The difference between short-term and long-term marriages and divorce in that the process may be less expensive, quicker, and have fewer complications. 

Calendar with wedding and divorce date

Divorce and Short Term Marriages In New Mexico 

 Couples who have been married for a short period of time generally tend to have fewer debts and fewer assets, or at least less jointly owned assets. This makes things like property division more straightforward. They also might not have children, which means that things like custody and child support are also not in question. Furthermore, things like spousal support (alimony) are usually not a major factor in marriages that have lasted only a few years. These factors mean that many short-term marriage couples may be eligible for an uncontested divorce, or in any case a simplified contested divorce. 


Albuquerque and Las Cruces Uncontested Divorce 

If you have been married for a relatively short time (usually less than 5 years) an uncontested divorce might be an excellent option for you. An uncontested divorce is a streamlined divorce process that can take place when both parties agree on all of the terms of the divorce. That means there are no disagreements on property division, alimony, custody or child support. This is usually only the case when the parties have a relatively short-term marriage where little community property exists. If there are any disputes about who gets what, or who pays who or who gets the kids, you will have to go through the traditional contested divorce route. 

An uncontested divorce is a good option if these factors apply to you because the process is usually less expensive and time-consuming. In fact, both parties can use the same attorney to handle the divorce. To find out more about uncontested divorce, check out our Uncontested Divorce in New Mexico article. 


Can I get an Annulment?

In most cases, an annulment will likely not be an option for you. New Mexico has strict criteria for granting annulments and most couples will likely not meed the requirements. However, you can read more about annulments in New Mexico here


How Divorce Works In New Mexico

New Mexico is a community property state. This means that any property that belongs to the marriage must be split equally between the spouses when they divorce. Likewise, all debts incurred during the marriage (with the exception of gambling debts) belong to both spouses equally. If you want to exclude something from the division, then it is up to you to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it is your separate property. Proof generally means providing information (a document or testimony) on when you received the property and how you treated it during the marriage. For a gift or inheritance, you may need to show that it was intended only for you.

Property proven as separate remains in the hands of the original-owner spouse. The court cannot award any part of it to the other spouse, but it could set it aside for spousal maintenance (alimony) or the benefit of minor children. All property not excluded must be divided equally

The court is, therefore, less likely to make a disproportionate award of jointly owned property and more likely to order an equal distribution of jointly owned assets. This is particularly true in cases where both parties were employed throughout the marriage. 401 K and/or retirement accounts are also important aspects to consider. Any funds contributed to the 401(k) account during the marriage are marital property and subject to division during the divorce, unless there is a valid prenuptial agreement in place.  There are exceptions to this rule as well in short term marriages for example,  if your spouse also has a retirement account worth a similar amount, you may each decide to keep your own accounts.  


Who Gets The House?

One of the most important questions anyone going through or considering a divorce has is “Can I keep my home?”.  In a short-term marriage, there may or may not be a  home that was bought during the marriage. If there is, it is likely your most valuable asset and something you probably have an emotional attachment too, especially if you have children.  A home that was bought together during the marriage must be divided equally.  Usually, this requires selling the house and then the profit being divided.   Judges in New Mexico typically prefer to finalize all proceedings related to the divorce in the MSA (Marital Settlement Agreement). That means they don’t like to award the house to one party on the condition of refinancing and buying the other party out at a later time. If you agree to let your spouse keep the house, refinance and buy you out two years down the road and they default on the mortgage, your credit will still go down with the ship. This means that unless one party can afford to take the financial responsibility of the home immediately, the house will need to be sold. 


Alimony and Short Term Divorce 

 Alimony, which is also called "spousal support" in New Mexico, maybe awarded in a divorce case, but the burden is on the spouse seeking support to show why alimony is needed.  This is particularly difficult in a short-term marriage and so alimony is rarely sought after or granted ( at least long term) in marriages that end before the 10-year mark. However, after the 10-year mark, alimony is usually a long-term factor.


How to Get An Uncontested Divorce In New Mexico 

It is important to remember that even if you and your soon-to-be-ex agree on every aspect of the settlement, having an attorney to help you navigate the paperwork and help handle outstanding issues can be hugely helpful. Our experienced Albuquerque and Las Cruces Divorce attorneys can help you to ensure that your settlement addresses all pertinent issues, help you understand the long-term implications of the settlement, and draft and file all necessary paperwork. Discuss your desire for a low-cost, low conflict divorce with your spouse, decide who gets what, and contact and Genus Law. You can sit down with one of our local attorneys, discuss your desires and concerns, and leave the rest with us. Genus Law generally completes uncontested divorces in a matter of weeks.


To learn more about Divorce, or to get started on your case, call us at (505) 317-4455 ABQ, (575) 215-3500 Las Cruces, or chat with someone online now through our website chat function.

Anthony Spratley
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Experienced Divorce, Child Custody, and Guardianship Lawyer Serving Albuquerque and Beyond