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divorce and gavel

Basic Outline of the Divorce Process

  • One spouse contacts a lawyer, who prepares a complaint initiating the divorce. In New Mexico there are no real grounds to be proven in a divorce other than irreconcilable differences.
  • The complaint is filed with the court and served on the other spouse, together with a summons that requires the spouse's written, filed, legal response within thirty (30) days.
  • The served spouse must respond within the time limit prescribed or it will be assumed that he or she does not contest the petition, in which case the petitioner will be granted the requested relief (divorce etc.).
  • The parties, through their attorneys, engage in "discovery," during which they exchange information relevant to deciding the issues in the divorce such as property division, spousal support, child support, etc.
  • The parties may attempt to reach a settlement, which can be facilitated by the parties' lawyers or a neutral third party, such as a mediator.
  • If a settlement is reached, the agreement is submitted to the Court.
  • If the judge approves the agreement, he or she issues a divorce decree that includes the terms to which the parties agreed. If he or she does not approve it, or if there has been no agreement, the case will go to trial.
  • At trial, the attorneys present the evidence and arguments for both sides and present witnesses; the judge decides the issues and grants the divorce.
  • Either or both parties can appeal the judge's decision to a higher court although this is seldom done.
  • From time to time, the parties may have to readjust the agreements within the divorce such as the parenting plan.

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