Attorney Bob Matteucci Serves As A Special Master in New Mexico Divorce Cases
While every divorce is unique, one thing that all couples must do is divide up their assets and debts. Because New Mexico is a community property state, our laws say every asset acquired during the marriage, or debt incurred by a couple, is assumed to be owned by both spouses. Identifying, valuing, and deciding who gets ownership of this property is often the most challenging aspect of finalizing a divorce.
When an amicable agreement over the division of assets seems impossible, or there are particularly valuable or complex assets owned by a couple, the parties’ attorneys or the judge overseeing the case may seek the assistance of a special master. Attorney Bob Matteucci of Matteucci Family Law is routinely asked to serve as a special master in New Mexico divorce cases where there are business assets, pieces of real estate, or other unique, high-value assets to divide up.
What is a Special Master?
A special master is a neutral third party hired to assist the parties in a civil lawsuit as they attempt to come to an agreement, or investigate an issue the court would like more information on as it makes its ruling. The special master often has a set of skills or certain knowledge that the parties’ attorneys or the judge overseeing the case believes will be helpful to tap into.
Rule 1-053 of New Mexico’s Rules of Civil Procedure for the District Courts describes a special master as a referee, auditor, or examiner. This is an apt description since the special master is an investigator or observer rather than an advocate. He or she takes action when the parties need help coming to an agreement or looks into issues the court wants more information on and reports back. The court accepts a special master’s actions or reports as appropriate unless a party involved in the case proves it is clearly unacceptable.
The work the special master does helps resolve the case more efficiently. To that end, he or she has the ability to request the parties produce whatever evidence is necessary to help resolve the case. The special master can also interview witnesses, hire experts, and do things like negotiate the sale of real estate or other assets on behalf of the parties in the case.
What Role Does a Special Master Play in a Divorce Case?
The special master’s job is different in every case. The exact work to be done is specified by the parties to the case in a stipulated order filed with the court. The order tells the special master exactly what work needs to be done, the timeline for the work, and the format of any reports that will be submitted.
When Bob Matteucci is asked to serve as a special master in a divorce case it is typically a case where there are high-value assets to sell, liquidate, value, assess, or equitably divide up, including:
- Real property — Residential, commercial, agricultural, land, and vacation property
- Businesses — Manufacturing, merchandising, service, digital, and professional services
- Business assets — Inventory, receivables, and equipment
- Other assets — Vehicles, art, jewelry, firearms, and antiques
For example, Bob is often called in by attorneys handling a case where there is a piece of real estate that is jointly owned by both parties. The parties are in such a bitter dispute they cannot agree on a sales price, timeline for the sale, or even pick a realtor they both like. Bob, as the special master, comes in and handles the sale as a neutral third party with no interest other than selling the property for the best price possible in the amount of time he is given.
Attorney Matteucci has the skills necessary to assist the court with these cases thanks to his years of family law experience and background as a small business owner. Before earning his J.D. with a concentration in Business Law from the University of New Mexico, Bob graduated from Tulane University with an MBA and was the owner of a profitable shoe store that generated over $5,500,000 in annual sales.
He knows how to dig into complex financial documents and estimate the value of illiquid and indivisible assets. He can also suggest ways to apportion the value of these assets in a manner that does not diminish their utility. Having gone through the divorce process himself, he is ready to help the parties in high-net-worth divorces navigate the financial and emotional minefield they are facing.
Who Pays for a Special Master in a Divorce Case?
The special master is paid for by the parties involved in a case. The cost is typically split between the parties unless it would be more appropriate for one party to cover the full cost.
How much it costs to hire a special master varies based on the work required.
Serving Families with Dignity & Compassion
Attorney Bob Matteucci leverages his legal skills and business experience to help couples in New Mexico who own unique and valuable assets negotiate a divorce settlement agreement that is fair to everyone involved. Whether he is serving as an advocate, a mediator, or a special master, his goal is to help the parties involved move forward with their lives. Please contact Bob today to schedule a meeting.