How are Divorce Records Generated in New Mexico?
New Mexico divorce records are documents that serve as proof of the finalization of a divorce by a competent court. As of 2018, out of every 1000 women aged 15 and above in New Mexico, 6.6 of them are divorced.
To end a marriage in New Mexico, a couple can opt for one of these three options; annulment, legal separation, and dissolution of marriage. An annulment invalidates and nullifies a marriage. This means that the marriage was void according to the law from it’s beginning.
The court could annul a marriage on the grounds of bigamy, mental illness of one of the parties, incest, coercion, or inability of a party to consummate the marriage. Marriage is also voidable if it contravenes § 40–1–5, § 40–1–6, and § 40–1–7 of the 2011 New Mexico Statutes.
On the other hand, if the marriage is valid and legal on all grounds, it can be dissolved by legal separation or dissolution of marriage. Both are similar and require the same procedure. However, while the former does not allow any of the parties to remarry, the latter does.
To get a divorce in New Mexico, one or both parties must have lived in New Mexico for at least six months. The divorce petition, as well as other necessary documents, would be filed in the district court overseeing the county where either party lives.
By § 40–4–1 of the 2011 New Mexico Statutes, there are four grounds for which a court can dissolve a marriage, which are:
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
In New Mexico, a divorce can be categorized into contested or uncontested divorce and fault or no-fault divorce. This means that there are four types of divorce in New Mexico.
A divorce is contested when both parties are unable to come to an agreement on the divorce or the terms of the divorce. This type of divorce can be in court for as long as one year and is more expensive than an uncontested divorce.
An uncontested divorce, on the other hand, happens when both parties agree on the divorce and on the terms of the divorce before filing for a divorce. Because issues like alimony, child support, property division have been settled by the parties, this type of divorce is fast and inexpensive. After filing the appropriate documents, the divorce can be finalized within thirty days.
When a party claims that the spouse’s actions led to the end of the marriage, it is called a fault divorce. The actions of the blamed spouse should amount to either adultery, abandonment, or cruel and inhuman treatment.
A no-fault divorce, however, is when one or both of the parties seeks to end the marriage on the ground of incompatibility. This means that neither party blames the other for the breakup of the marriage.
Regardless of the way the marriage was dissolved, the records are maintained by the Clerk of the District Court where the marriage was dissolved.
Are Divorce Records Public in New Mexico?
Divorce records are public district court records in New Mexico. By Section 14–2–1 of the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, public records are documents held or maintained by a public body. The section defines a public body as an executive, legislative and judicial branch of state and local governments.
By this section, district courts are public bodies, and as such, divorce records are public records and are accessible to any member of the public.
The same section grants a right to members of the public to access public records. This means that anybody can access all divorce records as long as no competent court has sealed such records.
What are the types of Divorce Records available in New Mexico?
There are two different types of divorce records available in New Mexico. There is the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and Divorce Case Files.
A Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is a document signed by a judge of a competent court stating that a marriage has been terminated. This document comes in two types. If the parties have high school children under the age of nineteen, the document’s title will include “with children”. If, however, the couple does not have children, the document’s title will include “without children”.
Both types are documents adopting the content of the Marital Settlement Agreement. It states the names of the couple and the county where the marriage was dissolved. The difference between the two types is that one includes the adoption of a parenting plan while the other does not.
The divorce case files are a compilation of all the documents used in the course of the divorce. This includes the petition, summons, pleadings, the Marital Settlement Agreement, the Parenting Plan, and the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage among others. The parenting plan refers to the Custody Plan and Order and the Child Support Obligation and Order.
Both the divorce case files and the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage are provided and maintained by the Clerk of the public district court where the divorce took place.
How Do I Get Divorce Records in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, divorce records are not regarded as confidential vital records but as public district court records. As such, the records are instead kept and maintained by the Clerk of the district court where the divorce took place.
Divorce records before 1912, are stored and issued by the State Records Center and Archives, under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Commission of Public Records.
In the website provided by the New Mexico State Judiciary, a case number search form and name search form are provided to aid the requester in the search of a court record. The interested party has only to fill one of these forms to find the required record.
The name search form allows the requester to search for the record by the name, date of birth, and driver’s license information of one of the parties. However, it is not mandatory for each of these categories to be filled. The requester can enter in the name only and still have results.
The form also allows the requester to limit the search by court type, court location, and case category. The search can also be limited by the dates within which the divorce proceedings took place.
The case number search form only makes provision for the case number. This means that to search using this firm, the requester must have the case number of the record sought.
The New Mexico Courts’ Public Access website enables the requester to search for records, including divorce records, by case number, citation number, party’s name, or by attorney’s name. To get results while searching by party’s name and attorney’s name, the first name and last name of these persons must be known.
After the completion of the search and payment of the appropriate fees, the records can be downloaded.
Beyond the online options, divorce records can be obtained by visiting the district court where the divorce was finalized. Depending on the county involved, records can be obtained by mail or in person.
While divorce and marriage records may be searched through government sources and organizations, the availability of these documents cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these entities are not government-sponsored therefore record availability may vary further.
Also note that marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information the records contain, and are often sealed. Hence, bearing in mind that these factors determine the availability of any type of marriage or divorce record.
Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in New Mexico?
New Mexico divorce records are public district records and can be accessed by any interested person. However, sealed divorce records are only accessible to the counsel of record. The counsel of record has to make the request in person and provide proof of identity.
Are New Mexico Divorce Records available online?
The New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics Website has an online portal. The portal gives details on how to obtain birth and death certificates. It, however, makes no provision for divorce records. Instead, it directs interested persons to the district court where the divorce took place.
The New Mexico Courts have a public access website that allows members of the public to look for cases, including divorce records.
How Do I seal My Divorce Records in New Mexico?
Rule 1–079 of the New Mexico Rules of Civil Procedure District Court allows any party to file a motion for an order to seal the court record. Divorce records can, therefore, be sealed by filing a motion for such. The Rules also allow another party or any other person to file a response to the motion to seal.
In the course of the hearing of the motion, the record under consideration will be temporarily sealed until the court’s ruling. It would also be kept in an envelope or other appropriate container and lodged with the court. The envelope or container would be labeled, “CONDITIONALLY UNDER SEAL.”
The court would not seal a record just because the parties agreed or stipulated as such. The person making the application must prove that:
- There is an existing interest that overrides the right of the public to access the record
- The overarching interest favors sealing the court record
- There is a strong possibility that such interest would be prejudiced if the record is not sealed.
- The proposed sealing is specific and restricted to the overriding interest.
- There are other sufficient means to achieve such interest.
The court would seal a divorce record for reasons such as to protect children and victims of domestic violence. Other reasons include protecting sensitive information like social security numbers and proprietary business information.