One of the most potentially problematic aspects of a divorce is dividing the property: determining who gets what. You may already be aware that New Mexico is a community property state, which means that any community property must be divided equitably upon dissolution of the marriage.
However, you may not have a clear idea of just what that means, especially in terms of your property. The attorneys at Frazier Law Office can help you sort out this particularly painful area to help achieve the fairest, most equitable division of property possible.
What Community Property Is
The short definition of community property is any property obtained during the marriage that cannot rightfully be claimed as separate property. Common examples of community property include a family home, a family car, stocks or bonds. However, community property may also include more personal items, such as jewelry and other personal property. Community property also includes debts by either party occurred during the course of the marriage, with several important exceptions, outlined below.
What Community Property Is Not
There are several categories of property (or debt) that are NOT considered community property under New Mexico Law. Property or debt that is excluded from community property designation remains the separate property or debt of the individual spouse after the dissolution of marriage. These exceptions are:
- Property or debt acquired by an individual spouse before marriage OR, during a legal separation and after the formal entry of a decree of dissolution of the marriage
- Property that either spouse establishes to the satisfaction of the court as separate, acquired either before marriage or during the marriage, or which is designated as separate by a valid written agreement
- Property inherited by or given to either spouse SEPARATELY (e.g. from a parent)
- Gambling debts, acquired either before or during the marriage
- debts that are identified as separate by either spouse when the debt is taken on, regardless of whether the debt occurred before or during the marriage
- Debts resulting from tort actions against an individual spouse
- Debts incurred while spouses were living apart that do NOT benefit either both spouses or any children AND the court judges to be unreasonable
Community Property and Spousal or Child Support
Although property that is excluded from designation as community property is not subject to division upon dissolution of the marriage, it may still be subject to assignment to the other spouse. Specifically, the judge may order one spouse to supply the other with spousal support. Likewise, the judge may order the noncustodial spouse to provide child support to the spouse who is assigned primary responsibility for raising and children that result from the marriage.
Ensuring Equitable Division of Community Property
It should be clear from reading the above that dealing with community property is not as simple as splitting everything down the middle, either literally or figuratively. In fact, there are several aspects to the division of community property that can throw a wrench into what would otherwise be a relatively smooth ending of a marriage. While it is possible to obtain a reasonable division of community property if both parties are in a cooperative frame of mind, in most cases, it’s best to negotiate through attorneys like the skilled legal team at Frazier Law.