New Mexico Family Law: An Overview
Across New Mexico, family law looks after many of the most important relationships we have – those with our closest family. Whether you live in Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Las Cruces, the chances are that you will need to engage with New Mexico family law at some point in your life.
Family law includes topics such as marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody and domestic violence. LawInfo’s New Mexico Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.
New Mexico Marriage Requirements
When a couple wants to get married in New Mexico, both parties:
- Must consent to the marriage
- Must be over 18 years old (or 16 or 17, with written consent of living parents or guardians)
- Must not be related as first-degree relations
Before the wedding ceremony, a couple must obtain a marriage license from a New Mexico county clerk. This involves both parties visiting a county clerk office in person to provide identification and pay a fee. When a license has been issued, it will then need to be shown to the person conducting the wedding itself.
New Mexico Divorce Guidelines
When a marriage falls apart, there can be many practical and emotional considerations to think about. Often, at least one spouse will start looking into how to file for divorce and seek to understand their legal rights.
To divorce in New Mexico, one of the parties must have been physically present in the state and have a place of residence in New Mexico for at least six months, and they must presently intend to remain in the state permanently or indefinitely. The grounds for divorce in New Mexico are:
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
In New Mexico, “incompatibility” means that because of conflict and disagreement between spouses, the marriage relationship has ended with no reasonable hope of repair. It is considered a “no fault” grounds for divorce, where neither spouse is blamed for the marriage’s break down.
It is also possible to begin legal proceedings to divide assets and property, and to decide things like child custody and alimony payments, without filing for a divorce.
New Mexico Child Custody Overview
Child custody decisions are focused on where a child lives and how much time is spent with each parent when a couple has divorced or does not live together. This can be a complicated process and a court has to make sure that child custody arrangements are made in the best interests of the child.
In New Mexico, as with many states, identifying a child’s best interests involves finding the best arrangement to maximize the child’s overall happiness, development, and security. It also aims to maintain a child’s relationships with both parents.
While a court can also take into account the child’s own preference on which parent will care for them, courts in New Mexico will take more serious note of views of children over 14 years old.
New Mexico Premarital Agreement Requirements
Before getting married, many couples will want to plan for what happens if the marriage ends in divorce. In New Mexico, a premarital agreement (also known as a “prenup”) is a legal agreement between future spouses which aims to protect both parties’ interests and share out assets if they get divorced.
A premarital agreement can include aspects such as property, financial commitments, assets and the payment of alimony. Both parties must consent to the agreement in writing, which then becomes a legal contract as soon as they get married.