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Legal Information: New Mexico

New Mexico Divorce

Laws current as of
May 16, 2024

This page has basic information about divorce in New Mexico.

What are the residency requirements for divorce in New Mexico?

To file for divorce in New Mexico, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months and have a “domicile” in New Mexico. You are considered to have a domicile in New Mexico if you:

  • are physically present in New Mexico and have a home in New Mexico;
  • intend to live in New Mexico permanently or indefinitely;
  • serve in the U.S. military and have been stationed in New Mexico for six months; or
  • serve in the U.S. military and lived in New Mexico for six months immediately before you or your spouse moved to a military base outside of New Mexico, but you intend to return to New Mexico and live there permanently or indefinitely.1

1N.M. Stat. § 40-4-5

What are the reasons (grounds) for divorce in New Mexico?

The reason for a divorce is called the ground for divorce. In New Mexico, you can get a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce.

A no-fault divorce is when you file for divorce without saying that your spouse is responsible for the end of the marriage. A judge will grant you a no-fault divorce due to incompatibility.1 Incompatibility means that because of disagreements or conflicts, the reason for getting married to your spouse is destroyed and there is no reasonable expectation that you will get back together (reconcile).2

A fault-based divorce is when you file for divorce, and you claim that your spouse was responsible for the end of the marriage due to:

  • cruel and inhuman treatment;
  • adultery; or
  • abandonment.1

1N.M. Stat. § 40-4-1
2N.M. Stat. § 40-4-2

Can I get alimony? What factors will a judge consider?

Alimony, also called spousal support, is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse and can be awarded when an annulment, divorce, or separate maintenance is granted. The judge may award you alimony in a single payment (sum) or multiple payments (installments), including:

  1. rehabilitative spousal support for education, training, or work experience to help you increase your income and become self-supporting. Note: The judge may have a specific rehabilitation plan that you must follow in order to receive the alimony;
  2. transitional spousal support to add to (supplement) your income for a specific amount of time;
  3. spousal support for an unlimited (indefinite) amount of time;
  4. a single sum that your spouse must pay once or in several installments, which will stop only if the spouse who is getting the support dies; or
  5. a single sum that your spouse must pay once or in several installments, which does not stop even if the spouse who is getting the support dies.1

Typically, the types of spousal support described above in numbers one through four will stop when the spouse who is getting the support dies unless the court order says something different.2

To decide the amount of alimony and for how long alimony will be paid, a judge will consider:

  • the age and health of each spouse;
  • each spouse’s means of support;
  • the good faith efforts of each spouse to keep a job or to become self-supporting;
  • the reasonable needs of each spouse, including the standard of living during the marriage, the maintenance of medical insurance, and life insurance costs and availability;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the amount of property each spouse was awarded in the divorce;
  • the type and nature of each spouse’s assets and liabilities;
  • any income-producing property either spouse has; and
  • any agreements the spouses made when considering divorce or separation.3

1 N.M. Stat. § 40-4-7(B)(1)
2 N.M. Stat. § 40-4-7(D)
3 N.M. Stat. § 40-4-7(E)

What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?

While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:

  • First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state.
  • Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
  • Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse. (To learn more about filing a summons, preparing a petition, and service of process, go to the Starting the Court Case page in our Preparing for Court - By Yourself section.)
  • Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then he will have the opportunity to file papers telling his side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” If he contests it, then you will have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, then he should sign the papers and send them back to you. If your spouse agrees with everything and signs the papers, this is called a “simplified divorce” BUT it is only available if you do not have children with your spouse. If your spouse does not sign the papers for a simplified divorce, you would have to file a regular petition for dissolution of marriage. If your spouse doesn’t respond to those papers after being properly served, you can get a divorce “by default.”
  • Fifth, if there is property that you need divided or if you need financial support from your spouse, then you will have to work that out either in an out-of-court settlement or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

Where can I find additional information about divorce?

We hope the following links to outside sources may be helpful.

The New Mexico Courts website provides court forms that you may need if you wish to get a divorce.

Law Help New Mexico explains who can get a divorce in New Mexico and discusses residency requirements.

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their site. We provide these links for your information only.

You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.