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If spouses agree on all issues, they will need to sign a "marital settlement agreement" (which their attorneys can draft) and a proposed final divorce decree: both must be submitted to the court.
Once these documents are approved and signed by a judge, and the paperwork is filed in the clerk's office, the divorce will become final. You aren’t required to hire an attorney, and many people do represent themselves, particularly those involved in very simple divorce cases.
For example, if you inherited a house from your parents while you were married and then rented it out, the rent proceeds should remain your separate property.
Problems arise when separate property gets "commingled" or mixed up with community property, for example, where one spouse owns a home before marriage, but both spouses use their community property earnings to pay the mortgage and property taxes during the marriage.
After one spouse files a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" (the legal paperwork requesting a divorce), the other spouse (called the "respondent") has 30 days to file an "Answer" to the divorce petition.
However, spouses can agree to waive the 30-day period.
It's also important to note that one lawyer cannot represent both spouses.
If you can’t afford an attorney, but need help, there are some free legal resources in New Mexico.
The major legal difference between the two options is that after a legal separation, neither spouse is free to re-marry.And, once the final divorce decree is filed, a couple is considered divorced; there is no waiting period for it to become effective.With that said, couples who choose to fight over every issue, who refuse to seriously discuss settlement, and who require a full-blown divorce trial can successfully drag out a divorce for years and rack up thousands upon thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees, expert witness costs, and court fees. Most couples are able to settle all divorce or separation issues without going to court.However, if you have children or significant assets and debts, it’s best to consult with a family law attorney that can inform you of your legal rights and responsibilities.From there, you can determine whether you need to hire an attorney to represent you through the entire divorce proceeding or just for a certain part (for example, a complicated custody hearing).