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FAQs – Divorce & Legal Separation

What does “Dissolution of Marriage” mean?

“Dissolution of Marriage” is just another way of saying divorce. When two people get divorced, they are dissolving the marriage. Once the judge signs the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, the spouses are no longer married to each other.

What is Legal Separation?

If the spouses no longer wish to live together and they want to make legally enforceable agreements on how to divide their property and debts, or how they will raise the children, they can do this by obtaining a legal separation without getting divorced.

Is a Legal Separation process different from a divorce?

In New Mexico, you go through the same exact court process and deal with the same exact issues (property, debt, children, and alimony) in a legal separation as for a divorce, except at the end of a Legal Separation, you are still technically married to each other and cannot marry someone else.

My spouse and I don’t live together anymore – are we legally separated?

Just living in separate households or no longer having intimate relations does not mean you are “legally separated”. That status requires a court order.

What issues need to be settled to finish a divorce or legal separation?

There are four issues that need to be settled to finish a divorce or legal separation: Property, Debt, Minor Children (custody, visitation & child support) and Spousal Support / Alimony.

What is a Divorce Lawyer? Are they different than other lawyers?

A divorce lawyer is an attorney who represents people going through a divorce. Divorce lawyers are also referred to as family law attorneys, domestic relations attorneys, matrimonial lawyers, and other names. Such lawyers also handle custody and visitation cases where the parents are not married to each other. They also usually represent clients in domestic violence cases, grandparent visitation or guardianship cases, legal separations, etc. Basically, if the situation involves a family breaking up or raising children, most divorce lawyers can handle it. Note that not all family law attorneys handle adoptions.

Do I have to go to Court if we have an Uncontested Divorce?

A true uncontested divorce is one where both spouses have reached agreement on all issues of dividing property and debt, alimony, and the children (custody, visitation and child support). In those situations, it’s a matter of preparing the appropriate court pleadings, submitting them to the judge to review and approve, and then getting the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage issued – all of which can be done without ever appearing in court or seeing the judge face to face.

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