So you’re getting a divorce….
You heard the words. Or maybe you spoke the words. Or maybe you are here because you are thinking the words. Divorce. D-I-V-O-R-C-E. With 1 in 2 couples divorcing, you have heard of it but it’s different when it’s happening to you.
What the heck is it? What happens? What do you need to know?
First of all, divorce is the cutting of the legal tie holding you and your spouse together.
When you married, you created an entity called a community and divorce is what separates that community. Once you are divorced, you and your spouse likely can no longer be on each other’s health insurance, file taxes jointly or be the automatic backup in dealing with issues. After divorce, you are back to being a single person, responsible and dependent only on your own actions.
That being said, what are your options? New Mexico is a “no-fault” divorce state which means that you don’t have to have a reason why your marriage is ending. No one is required to prove adultery or abuse, just that the marriage is over and there is no chance that you are getting back together.
New Mexico is a Community Property State, which means that everything you have acquired from the day you got married until the day you divorce, is owned by you and your spouse 50/50. So, for example, if you have been putting money into a retirement account, your spouse is entitled to one-half of the value of the account.
The same rule goes for debt. If you and your spouse incurred debt between the time you got married and the time you get divorced, you are both responsible for that debt 50/50. So, if you owe $4,000 to a credit card company, you and your spouse are each responsible for $2,000 of that debt.
Now, what happens if you own something that has debt on it? For instance, if you and your spouse purchased a home after you got married and that home is worth $250,000 but you owe $200,000 on it, what do you do? Well, you figure out the equity in the home.
At that amount, you each own $25,000 of the house value. If one of you is keeping the house, then you will need to buy out the other person’s share and probably also refinance to remove his or her name from the mortgage. If you are putting the house up for sale, then you and your spouse can simply divide the proceeds equally.
Okay, so dividing property and debt isn’t too hard.
What information do you need? Make a list of all the assets, include anything of significant value or sentimental value. Decide who is going to get what. Then make a list of all your bills and decide who is going to pay what.
Now what about the kids? What do you need to know about the kids?
Well, first you and your spouse need to decide who is going to make decisions for the kids—will it be both of you or just one of you? Are the kids going to mainly live with one of you or go back and forth between your homes? There are lots of decisions to make about the kids and how you will share time with them. Each family is different but everyone should keep the wellbeing of the kids as their top priority when making these decisions.
Some cases also have child support and spousal support issues and topics that can get complicated. In those cases, you might want to discuss your issues with a lawyer to figure out the next steps toward finalizing your divorce.