Divorce in New Mexico

Land of Enchantment provides four grounds for divorce


Many experts and legal authorities suggest that, at a minimum, the Petitioner in a divorce action (the one filing the suit) hire an attorney in order to ensure the filing is legal and the eventual decree enforceable. If you’re considering a divorce in which your spouse is expected to agree to terms, this route may be an option for you. However, if the divorce (or “dissolution of marriage”) will be contested–especially if children or significant assets are involved–it’s highly recommended that each party retain trained, experienced counsel.

End of marriage can feel like a death in the family

Experts also warn of two other aspects of ending a marriage. One, when a committed relationship comes to a close, it can feel very much like a death in the family. Such emotional trauma may be a candidate for professional counseling, grief therapy or spiritual guidance. Once the painful decision has been made, people are sometimes in such a rush to “get it over with” that they forget to budget time, energy and money for counseling.

Addressing domestic violence

Of paramount importance is domestic violence, which if present in the relationship should be addressed immediately. Fortunately, New Mexico provides a variety of domestic violence resources, including:

Residency, filing venue

According to section 40-4-5 of the New Mexico statutes, civilians and spouses who reside–or members of the military who are stationed in the state–for at least six months prior to the filing may petition the district court for divorce.  Statute 40-4-4 says, “Any proceeding for the dissolution of marriage, division of property, disposition of children or alimony, as provided for in this chapter, may be instituted in the county where either of the parties resides. In such proceedings, the court shall have jurisdiction of all property of the parties, wherever located or situated in the state.”

‘No-fault’ incompatibility one of  four grounds

Only four grounds for “dissolution of marriage” exist in New Mexico:

  • incompatibility (the “no-fault” provision)
  • cruel and inhuman treatment
  • adultery
  • abandonment.


Legal separation is also allowed, as stated in 40-4-3: “Whenever the husband and wife have permanently separated and no longer live or cohabit together as husband and wife, either may institute proceedings in the district court for a division of property, disposition of children or alimony, without asking for or obtaining in the proceedings, a dissolution of marriage.”

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