No one gets married expecting to get divorced. Sorting through the emotions that accompany the end of a relationship can make a difficult time even more overwhelming, especially if kids are involved.
Thankfully there are resources available to help take some confusion out of the process.
The State Bar of New Mexico offers monthly workshops and legal clinics to help you learn about the basics and answer common questions. The topics currently listed on their website under the tab “For Public” include:
• Consumer Debt/Bankruptcy Virtual Workshops
• Divorce Options Virtual Workshops
• Common Legal Issues for Senior Citizens (in person)
• Veteran Civil Legal Advice Clinic (in person)
• Homeless Legal Clinic (in person)
For further information and description of the workshop or clinic visit sbnm.org/For-Public/Workshop-Legal-Clinics
I recently attended the virtual workshop on Divorce Options. (For those who know me, this was for research and not personal. I consider myself fortunate in that regard). Most people will agree, a divorce is difficult at best, yet I found the workshop to be informative and comfortable. People attending were able to ask questions and at the end had useful tools.
The divorce workshop is offered the first Wednesday of each month via Zoom from 6-8 p.m. With the permission of the State Bar of New Mexico, I am sharing information from the workshop. If you are considering a divorce, I think you will find the workshop valuable. This is not legal advice.
Realities of divorce
Based upon a review of articles and the workshop, 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. A divorce can take one to three years to complete. It can be expensive with a simple divorce costing $1,500-$10,000. More complicated cases may be $50,000 to more than $100,000. Personal information becomes part of the public record.
Then there are the emotional and social costs of divorce. Divorce is hard on the couple, painful for children, and difficult for other family members and friends.
Documents needed to get divorced
No surprise here, there are many forms to complete, and they vary depending on your situation.
As an observer, this portion of the workshops appeared to be of high value to the participants. The presenter walked the participants through the process to find the forms.
Go to nmcourts.gov, then click through Self-Help > Forms > District Court > Domestic Relations > Dissolution of Marriage Forms > “4A-100 domestic relations forms; instructions and cautions regarding use of the forms.”
This six-page document is full of useful information to know when considering a divorce. The presenter briefly reviewed forms and how they differ based upon situations.
Different ways to get divorced
Pro se: You represent yourself
Mediation: A third party helps you reach agreement
Collaboration: Team of professionals help you work out issues
Arbitration: 3rd party listens and then decides
Litigation: Go to court with lawyers and fight over each issue. Then the judge decides. Prior to trial you will have to attend a Settlement Facilitation. Some mediation can occur in the process.
Initial thoughts to consider
Can you and your partner agree on how you want to get divorced? Each of you will gather information and documents guided by the instructions and applicable forms. Are there ways to solve or agree upon common problems? Each will record what you agree upon. For those matters you don’t agree on, discuss alternatives.
Issues in a family law case
Each partner cares about the issues and how they are resolved. It can be hard or harder. You can fight or negotiate with help. Common issues: Child custody, visitation, and support; spousal support; who gets what money and what things; who pays what debts and taxes; insurance (all types); bank accounts, retirement accounts; mortgage and deeds.
Knowing your divorce options
Similar to other workshops or training programs I have attended, you may conclude you learned a lot and you have more to consider after than you did before the workshop, and that can be a good thing.
Knowing your options can help you understand what is most important to you. It can help you and your partner reach an agreement, help you resolve differences and help you co-parent after the divorce is over. It may help build agreements for resolving post-divorce differences that may arise.
There was more to the workshop than I can capture in this article. The ability to ask questions, hear other questions and receive information and sources are great takeaways.