If you're considering filing for divorce, or your spouse has, you're probably weighing your options and wondering how to do things in the least painful (and least expensive) way possible. An Uncontested Divorce is an excellent way to divorce quickly and avoid excessive costs and unnecessary conflict. However, this option isn’t for every couple or every situation. In fact, Uncontested Divorce is actually less common than a Contested Divorce. Find out why and if uncontested divorce is a good fit for you and your specific situation.
Contested vs Uncontested Divorce in New Mexico
Divorce in New Mexico doesn't have to be an uphill battle or an expensive money pit for you and your soon-to-be ex. The process and type of divorce you get depends on what needs to be decided in the divorce and how much you both agree on the divorce terms. The fact is that the conflict in your marriage or relationship has very little to do with whether your divorce will be contested or uncontested. While the ability to communicate effectively and unemotionally is always going to make things easier and less expensive, the conflict in divorce comes from disagreements over custody, alimony, or who gets what(property division). This is why uncontested divorces are less common than contested divorces. Couples, especially couples who have children or have been married more than a few years, generally don't agree on everything. That's because issues like property division, child custody, and support as well as alimony are more likely to be larger issues the longer the length of the marriage. However, there are situations where there are no children and there is very little conflict over property division.
What is an Uncontested Divorce in New Mexico?
An uncontested divorce means that as far as the court and lawyers are concerned, you are in entire agreement with your soon-to-be-ex over all aspects of your divorce. If you and your spouse can have positive communication throughout the divorce process and can agree on any contested issues outside of the courtroom, you can save probably thousands with an uncontested divorce. In addition, an uncontested divorce allows couples to avoid courtroom shenanigans altogether, and only one attorney is needed for both parties. This means the already reduced costs can be split between both parties. One of the parties can contact a family law firm, meet with an attorney and explain the situation. The attorney can then draft and file a divorce petition with the court, and the other party will need to agree to the divorce terms listed in the petition. Any changes can be agreed to and amended by the attorney. Once this is finalized, the attorney can submit the final decree and your divorce is official. From my experience, if the parties are in full agreement, the whole process can take 30-60 days.
When is Uncontested Divorce on Option?
As discussed, an uncontested divorce is usually only a realistic option for shorter-term marriages, less than 5 years. That's not to say that it's impossible to have an uncontested divorce past this point, or that just because you have a short marriage an uncontested divorce is an option for you. It just means the longer the marriage the more unlikely there will be full agreement. Generally speaking, an Uncontested Divorce is a good option if:
If You Don't Have Children
A shorter marriage usually means the linky hood of having children is lower. If you don't have children, you can skip a huge part of the divorce process in both uncontested and contested divorces. Child Custody tends to be one of the most contentious parts of a divorce. Parents rarely agree to exact custody, parenting plan, and timesharing schedule without some conflict. Things like child support determination can also make things harder to agree to without both parties involving lawyers. Usually, the entire custody agreement is contested, but even small details like holiday schedules or changes to the child's school can cause conflict. Judges in New Mexico won't grant a divorce to a couple with children unless custody is completely worked out.
If You Don't Have a Large Amount of Community Property and Debts
The first thing to know about property division in New Mexico is that NM is a Community Property state. Usually, more recently married couples have minimal community property. This means there is less to disagree about and so less of a chance for the divorce to become contested. It would still be wise to hire a lawyer to sort all relevant documentation together and provide legal advice for anything that may pop up in your divorce. The debt issue needs a second eye because it could affect your status after the divorce and land you in financial trouble. Most of the organization for divorce papers will happen before you go to the court to file; some of the issues that will need to be addressed and resolved before you file will be; dividing up community property; debts; retirement accounts; spousal support/alimony; time-share agreements, and other personal issues with your situation. If these don't apply to you, or you are in full agreement, then an uncontested divorce may be an option for you.
When Alimony is not an Issue
There are many factors that go into determining alimony in a divorce. However, as a general rule, there is a strong relationship between alimony, length of the marriage, and income disparity. The court tends not to award alimony in marriages that are under 5 years in length. Every case is different and it's important to speak to an attorney to see if this could be a factor in your specific case.
Why Not Get an Uncontested Divorce
Remember that there are no divorce do-overs. Don’t agree to an uncontested divorce agreement just because some of these factors apply or you just want a quick and easy divorce. You might be leaving behind assets, or alimony that is rightfully yours. There could be hidden assets or income you are not aware of or entitlement to retirement and other accounts. It is always in your best interest to talk to a local family law attorney who can tell you your rights and let you know your options before you sign anything.
How a New Mexico Family Law Attorney Can Help
If you want a quick and easy legal separation, consider an uncontested divorce. It will take less time and less money to complete the process from start to finish and leave you with a new life and fresh start. Our family law attorneys can draft and file all necessary paperwork to make sure your divorce is done right and in a timely manner. More importantly, however, we can make sure your rights and interests are protected and looked after in any divorce agreement. We can ensure that you can exit with no regrets. Contact us here at (505)-317-4455, chat with an online representative, or fill out an info sheet, to set up your consultation with one of our experienced Albuquerque Divorce Attorneys. We can discuss your case, concerns, and options and see if an uncontested divorce makes sense for you.