Wedding rings and gavel with a person signing a divorce contract in the background

Can I Get a Jury Trial for my New Mexico Divorce?

If you are about to file for divorce, you might be wondering about your options and asking many questions, like, Can I get a jury trial for my New Mexico divorce? The short answer to that question is yes. You will want to consider several factors before making your decision.

A New Mexico family law attorney can advocate on your behalf and represent you in your divorce case.

Is a Jury Trial the Best Option for Your New Mexico Divorce Case?

You might feel as if your soon-to-be ex-spouse behaved horribly and that a jury would likely throw the book at him or her. Your friends and family respond with outrage when they hear about your spouse‚Äôs conduct, and you expect that a jury would have a similar reaction. 

Still, there are limits to what a jury is allowed to do. A jury cannot order more drastic terms than a judge can in a divorce case. Both jury-tried and judge-tried cases must remain within the boundaries of New Mexico law.

Reasons You Might Want a Bench Trial Rather Than a Jury Trial in a New Mexico Divorce

While it might be gratifying to get into the witness stand and tell your story to a jury, you need to understand ahead of time the ramifications of demanding a jury trial instead of having a judge decide your divorce case.

Jury trials are far more expensive than bench trials. A bench trial is when a judge decides your case without a jury involved. The process of selecting a jury and taking the extra steps necessary when presenting one’s case to a jury adds a significant amount of lawyer hours to your case. The more hours your lawyer has to work on your case, the more expensive your divorce will be. Having a jury trial could add thousands of dollars to your attorney fee bill.

If you would like your divorce case to get resolved sooner rather than later and get on with your life, you might want to have a bench trial rather than a jury trial. Often, the waiting time for your case to get reached for a jury trial is months longer than for a bench trial.

You will want to talk with your family law attorney at the beginning of your case if you are considering having a jury trial for your divorce.

How to Get a Jury Trial in Your New Mexico Divorce 

If you and your lawyer decide to have a jury trial for your divorce, you will need to comply with the procedural rules that govern jury trials. Rule 1-038 of the New Mexico Rules of Civil Procedure says that any party in a civil action can demand a trial by jury by filing a written demand for a jury trial and serving that demand on the other parties to the action. 

The jury demand must get filed and served after the commencement of the action and not more than 10 days after service of the last pleading directed to the issue that is triable of right by jury. If you demand a six-person jury, you will have to deposit with the clerk of the court a non-refundable jury fee of $150 and another $150 every day the jury must attend. For a 12-person jury, the fee is $300 a day.

A New Mexico family law attorney can provide guidance on the issue of having a jury trial in your divorce case and other issues. Get in touch with our office today if you require legal assistance.