Property in Divorce

When you’re facing a divorce, all the assets you and your spouse have are naturally a concern. You don’t want to end up walking away empty-handed and need to be able to support yourself once the marriage is officially over. Keep reading to learn more about how property is handled in a divorce case in New Mexico so you know what to expect and what steps to take.

A “community property” state

In New Mexico, your marital property is considered community. All income, debt or property accumulated throughout your marriage generally belongs to both you and your spouse equally, with the only exception being inherited things, property bought with separate assets, and debts related to furthering those assets. New Mexico is also a “no-fault” divorce state, so misbehavior on the part of you or your spouse doesn’t affect how the property or debt is divided.
To prove property is separate should your spouse challenge that claim, you have to provide evidence, such as a document or testimony that relates to how you received the property and how it was treated while you were married. For inherited property, you’ll have to show that it was meant and only ever intended for you. Property that is proven separate will remain yours, but the judge can order it to be set aside for the maintenance of your spouse or minor children.
Debts are treated just like property in the sense that they are divided into community and separate liabilities. .

Identify all your property and debt

To work toward a fair and legal division of debt and assets, you need to know what is owed and owned, and this includes separate and community property and debt. Waiting could make it harder to identify and locate assets and debt, so you’ll want to start making a list immediately. Cover what you are sure of in terms of debt and property first, and then take a closer look at your financial records to confirm nothing has been missed.
If you feel your spouse isn’t being completely upfront in this area or you’re having difficulty identifying all the debts and property, consider hiring an investigator who is experienced at locating and identify assets. Depending on what you find, you may need to involve other professionals, such as appraisers, for valuation purposes. While this will add another cost to your divorce, it may be worth it in the end.

Property settlement

You may be able to settle property division and debt application without having to ask the judge decide for you. Attorneys can often accomplish this on your behalf or it’s the outcome of a successful mediation where you and your spouse were able to work out an agreement regarding all the divorce issues.  If you can come to an agreement with your spouse on your own, it will speed up the process and keep your costs down. You’re also more likely to be accepting of a settlement you made yourself rather than what a judge would decide for you in court.
Before your attorney begins any negotiation for you or you attend a mediation session, make sure you have all your ducks in a row regarding marital property and debt. Being as prepared as you possibly can be will make your session go more smoothly and ensure you don’t lose sight of the big picture.
Sometimes, property and debt division gets complicated or is a hotly-contested area in a divorce. If you’re struggling to handle the financial side of your divorce or need help with any other issues, speak to an experienced family law attorney in New Mexico immediately.