Many husbands and wives who recognize that their marriage cannot continue dread the prospect of a bitter divorce filled with bad feelings, accusations, and lingering hostility. Fortunately, these negative stereotypes that are often promoted by family, friends, and the media probably constitute a much lower percentage of New Mexico divorces than those that are relatively businesslike. Many divorces in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties are either uncontested or reasonably amicable. However, one issue that creates problems for many people hoping for an uncontested divorce involves equating “uncontested” with “unrepresented.” These two concepts need to be distinguished because they describe very different and often mutually exclusive concepts.
The tendency to confuse these concepts is understandable for anyone who watches legal dramas on television. Television and movies tend to portray the role of a lawyer as a “fighter” who battles for his client. While this depiction may apply to certain situations in a family law context, a more appropriate image might be a skilled negotiator or businessman who works to get the “best deal for his client.” This means that working with a skilled New Mexico Divorce Lawyer often is the best way to ensure that a divorce that should be uncontested based on the issues does not deteriorate into unjustified contentious warfare. If both parties to a divorce are unrepresented, a divorce that starts out uncontested will frequently escalate into an expensive contested divorce because the parties focus on extraneous issues that are upsetting but pose little relevance on the outcome of the divorce.
It is useful to consider the relevance of infidelity by a spouse on the financial issues in a divorce. The wronged spouse may think this is the paramount issue in explaining the divorce as well as the calculation of alimony. With rare exception, infidelity has absolutely no impact on a judge’s award for alimony or property division in a divorce. Because New Mexico, like the majority of states, is a no fault divorce jurisdiction, the reason for the breakup of the marriage does not dictate what level of spousal maintenance or division of property is appropriate.
Because the affair of a spouse may be such an emotional issue for the spouse who feels that he or she has been wronged, there may be a tendency to get sidetracked on the adultery issue when discussing financial issues even though the judge will not consider a spouse’s indiscretion. The animosity that focusing on this emotional issue frequently generates can quickly turn a divorce that is appropriately proceeding as an uncontested divorce into a nasty litigated divorce where the upset spouse uses the proceeding to exact his or her “pound of flesh.”
When you obtain a New Mexico Divorce Lawyer to handle your uncontested divorce, sound legal advice can guide you around such traps. There are some divorces that really should proceed on an uncontested basis, such as those where all of the following conditions are met:
• Marriage of extremely short duration (i.e. a few months)
• No domestic violence allegations
• No children of the relationship
• No significant assets or debts acquired during the brief marriage
• Neither party changed their situation substantially to get married
While there are many other situations that may make an uncontested divorce appropriate, usually there would be no reason to pursue a contested divorce if all of the above conditions were satisfied. If you are represented by an experienced New Mexico Uncontested Divorce Attorney, the lawyer can keep you focused on the correct issues and draft the paperwork to ensure that it accurately represents the substance of your agreement. The bottom line is that your decision to obtain legal representation for an uncontested divorce with your spouse can prevent misunderstandings and pitfalls that turn an unrepresented, uncontested divorce into a highly contested divorce.
The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.
If you have concerns about uncontested divorces, our experienced New Mexico Uncontested Divorce Attorneys can answer your questions. Jay Goodman & Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your situation and answer your questions. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights and options.