What steps are taken during the divorce process? from Chapter 1 Divorce in New Mexico

The steps taken to obtain a divorce in New Mexico typically
• Obtain a referral for an attorney.
• Schedule an appointment with an attorney.
• Prepare questions and gather needed documents for the initial consultation.
• Meet for the initial consultation with attorney.
• Pay retainer to attorney and sign retainer agreement.
• Provide requested information and documents to your attorney.


Choose which process you want for your divorce: mediation, negotiation, collaborative, or litigation.

1.If you choose mediation, both you and your spouse will meet with a mediator who may or may not be an attorney. You will have a series of joint sessions with the mediator to reach an agreement on all issues related to the divorce.  When you and your spouse reach an agreement, one of your attorneys will draft the agreement. Your individual attorneys will review it to make sure it protects you and make the necessary changes before you sign it. Negotiations begin regarding terms of a temporary order on matters such as custody, support, and temporary possession of the family home.
2.If you select the collaborative process, you and your spouse will each select a collaboratively trained attorney to represent you. There will be other members of the collaborative team as well. A financial neutral member will gather all the financial information and help prepare a property and debt work sheet and a child-support work sheet, and will recommend an appropriate settlement based upon the interest for each of the spouses. A divorce coach, who is a mental health professional, will help each spouse navigate the divorce process. A child specialist will help themwork out and draft a parenting plan that will best fit their children.
3. If you select a process where you are in litigation, motions will be filed on various issues, discovery will probably be done, and you may have a trial before a judge to determine some or all the issues. It is rare that all issues in a divorce are tried before the judge. Spouses usually have agreed on only some issues and request the court to decide the ones they could not agree upon.
• Take other actions as advised by attorney.
• Attorney prepares petition for dissolution of marriage (divorce) and supporting documents for your review and signature.
• Attorney files petition for dissolution of marriage with clerk of the court. A temporary domestic order (TDO) is immediately entered by the court. The TDO is to keep the financial and custodial status quo in place.
• Attorney may request a hearing before the court to address temporary matters.
• Attorneys prepare financial work sheets for interim hearing.
• A temporary hearing is held.


Parties reach an agreement on temporary matters.
A temporary order is prepared by one attorney, approved by other attorney, and submitted to the judge for signature.
If there are minor children, parties may be required to attend a parent education class, develop a parenting plan, or have a hearing before the court concerning temporary custody.
Both sides conduct discovery to obtain information regarding all relevant facts. If needed, obtain valuations of all assets, including expert opinions.
Confer with attorney to review facts, identify issues, assess strengths and weaknesses of case, review strategy, and develop proposal for settlement. Spouses, guided by their attorneys, attempt to reach an agreement through written proposals, mediation, settlement conferences, or other negotiation.
Parties reach an agreement on all issues.
Attorney prepares a final decree of dissolution of marriage and required supporting court orders for approval by spouses and attorneys.


If you are in the collaborative process, all the necessary financial documents are exchanged between the parties. The financial neutral reviews them and prepares an asset-and-liability work sheet in order to consider an agreement.
If there are children, the child specialist works with the spouses and their children to work out an age appropriate parenting plan.
Meetings are conducted with the spouses, financial neutral, divorce coach, and child specialist to come to a tailor-made agreement for the spouses and their children.
The attorney requests a trial setting for the court to set a trial date.
Pay trial retainer to fund the work needed to prepare for trial and services for the day(s) of trial.
Parties prepare for trial on unresolved issues.


Trial preparations proceed and include the preparation of witnesses, trial exhibits, legal research on contested issues, pretrial motions, trial brief, preparation of direct and cross-examination of witnesses, preparation of opening statement, subpoena of witnesses, and closing argument to the court.
Meet with attorney for final trial preparation.
A trial is held.
The judge makes a decision.
Attorney prepares final decree of dissolution of marriage.Other attorney approves final decree of dissolution of marriage, or a hearing is required for the judge to decide on the language in the final decree of dissolution of marriage.
Final decree of dissolution of marriage is submitted to judge for signature.
The judge signs final decree of dissolution of marriage.
Make payments and sign documents (deeds or titles) pursuant to final decree of dissolution of marriage.
Prepare documents required to divide retirement accounts and ensure the payment of child support are submitted to the court.
Pay any remaining balance due on attorney’s fees or receive refund.

For more information our book Divorce in New Mexico is available on the home page of our website for $14.95.

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