Legal separation in New Mexico is not only one of the first steps in the divorce process but is instead classified as a legal designation with particular ramifications. Before petitioning the court for a legal separation, it is extremely important that you understand what you are asking for and what consequences may be faced as a result. 



 

Types of Separation in New Mexico

 

When it comes to separation in New Mexico, there are three different types that are an option for you to pursue with yourself and your spouse. Listed below are the three types of separations and how each one is different:

  1. Trial Separation: this is a separation on a trial basis, which means it does not have to go through the courts for approval, but you and your spouse are still considered married and because of that, all laws pertaining to debts, property, support, and inheritance are still applicable to you and your spouse.

  2. Permanent Separation: This is one of two separation options, if you and your spouse do not intend to stay married but under the law, you will still be considered married. Since you and your spouse are seeking separation, it is important that you agree on a separation agreement that determines who is responsible for debts, what will happen with assets accrued during the separation period, and how custody and visitation with any minor children will be handled. The other important thing to remember is that since you and your spouse are permanently separating, it may be in your best interest to seek legal separation as well.

  3. Legal Separation: Legal separation is similar to divorce in a lot of ways. It follows the same legal process, but instead of legally ending your marriage it separates your financial lives and assists with creating certainty for your children. To be legally separated, you and your spouse will need to live separately and intend to continue to do so. During the process of legal separation, you’ll divide property, determine liability for debts, decide on custody and child support issues and also determine spousal support. When you are legally separated, you cannot remarry unlike in the event of divorce. 


Reasons to Legally Separate in New Mexico

 

When people are discussing a legal separation, as opposed to divorce there are a lot of reasons that people consider. Listed below are the four most common reasons for legal separation:

  1. The couple has decided to stay legally married for religious reasons.

  2. One spouse needs to retain certain benefits, such as social security or health insurance for the other spouse.

  3. The couple wants to legally separate debts so only one spouse is responsible.

  4. The couple needs space and time apart but is not sure that divorce is the best option.

When you and your spouse are debating legal separation, there are a lot of things to consider and it may be the best option for both individuals. The most important thing to remember is that you should speak to a family law attorney to decide what the best course of action is for you and your spouse and that if your ultimate goal is to get a divorce, a legal separation may not be necessary. 


What to Include In A Legal Separation

 

A lot of the processes that go into a legal separation are duplicated during divorce proceedings. The following list includes what should be determined in your and your spouses’ agreement for legal separation:

  1. Child custody and visitation arrangements

  2. Child support information

  3. Spousal support information

  4. How property and debt will be divided.

If you and your spouse are unable to agree on these issues, the courts will decide what is in the best interest of everyone involved. We here at Genus Law Group know that you have a lot at stake when considering a legal separation just like if you were going through a divorce. Before any decisions that can impact you, your children, and your family’s financial stability it is always in your best interest to speak with an experienced family law attorney about what your best option is.

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