In Los Lunas, family is important. And it has been from the start. Los Lunas is one of only a few towns in the Albuquerque area to be named after a local family. The Luna family raised thousands of sheep in Valencia County in the 1800s, and their descendants continue to live in the area.
People who live in Los Lunas today are more likely to work in a warehouse or in the tech industry than on the range, but the importance of family endures. That is why it is critical to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney when a family law dispute arises. Negotiating a solution that allows all the parties involved to move forward can salvage important relationships, save family businesses, and prevent fortunes from being wasted on pointless arguments.
By encouraging his clients to look towards the future, Attorney Bob Matteucci of Matteucci Family Law helps people throughout New Mexico get divorced and efficiently resolve other family law disputes.
From the outside, New Mexico’s family court system is as confounding as the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone. Trying to decipher it on your own is confusing and overwhelming, and leaves some people wondering if aliens designed it. Attorney Matteucci works to demystify the divorce process by outlining your options and explaining how different choices may impact your family and your finances in the long-run.
One of the first things Bob will do is discuss the different paths to divorce:
- Self-Help Divorce – If you have only been married a short amount of time, you don’t have any children or significant assets or debts, and you agree with your soon-to-be-former partner on all aspects of your separation, you can use the New Mexico court system’s self-help forms to divorce without the assistance of an attorney.
- Traditional Divorce – The majority of divorces filed by people in Rio Rancho are traditional divorces. One party files for divorce, and serves the other with divorce papers, and each spouse hires an attorney to represent their interests. The attorneys will negotiate the terms of the divorce, and draft all the documents that need to be filed with the court — like a marital settlement agreement, parenting plan, and petition for dissolution. Sometimes it is also necessary to hire a third party settlement facilitator to smooth the negotiation process. The vast majority of couples reach an agreement that avoids the need to litigate their divorce in open court.
- Mediated Divorce – Mediation is the preferred choice of couples who generally agree on the terms of their divorce but need assistance resolving a few high-stakes conflicts or fairly dividing complex assets. The mediator, a neutral third party, works towards steering both sides to a mutually acceptable resolution, and drafts all the paperwork necessary to formalize the divorce.
- Collaborative Divorce – Couples in the Rio Rancho area who still trust and respect one another, but no longer want to be married to each other, are increasingly opting for collaborative divorces. Attorney Bob Matteucci is one of a handful of lawyers in New Mexico who are certified to guide couples through this process, which relies on the assistance of professionals like financial planners and counselors.
Determining which type of divorce is right for you will depend on you and your former partner’s attitudes and goals. You must come to an agreement on the division of assets, negotiate a child custody and child support arrangement, and determine if one of you should be paying the other alimony. How easy it will be to make these big decisions will help determine the type of divorce that is appropriate. If you or your partner are members of the military, or you were in a same sex marriage, additional factors may come into play
Division of Assets & Debts
While every divorce is unique, one thing that all couples must do is divide their assets and debts.This may sound simple, but it is often the most challenging aspect of a divorce.
Because New Mexico is a community property state, any asset acquired during a marriage or debt incurred by a couple is assumed to be owned equally by both spouses. Dividing these assets and debts up is a four step process:
- Investigation. Bob will first work with you to make a list of all the assets and debts you and your spouse own. This can be a time consuming process. And if your former partner refuses to cooperate, it can be quite contentious.
- Classification. The next step is determining if there are any assets or debts that should not be subject to division — individual property one partner alone should take ownership of. This could include assets like inheritances or business interests that pre-date the marriage and were always kept separate from the family’s other funds. Or it may be debts that were incurred by a partner who was wasting the couple’s money by gambling or fueling an addiction.
- Valuation. All non-individual property, known as community property, must then be valued so that it can be equally divided. To assist with the valuation process, Attorney Matteucci typically reviews bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, loan records, deeds and titles, and any number of other documents. It may also be necessary to consult an expert that values businesses or real estate.
- Distribution. Finally, the entire marital estate — all the community property and jointly owned debts are divided 50/50. This sounds simple in theory, but many assets are impossible to divide without selling them (think real estate and businesses).
Attorney Matteucci uses his MBA and past business experience to help negotiate an agreement on the division of assets that is acceptable to everyone involved. Nailing this down outside of court keeps your financial details private, and speeds the resolution of your case.
Child Custody & Support
All parents want what is best for their children, which is why negotiating a child custody agreement, or modifying an existing one, is the most important and most challenging issue handled by family law attorneys.
Both parents often assume that maximizing the amount of time they get to spend with their child is the best solution. Taking a step back and realizing that you need to negotiate a physical custody agreement that makes sense considering the child’s age, childcare or schooling, and involvement with extended family is the first step toward a positive co-parenting experience.
When it comes to legal custody, which is the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of your child, New Mexico courts generally prefer a 50/50 split.
Once a child custody arrangement is nailed down, it is time to discuss child support payments. New Mexico has an algorithm that governs how child support is decided in most cases.
When possible, Attorney Matteucci works with families to negotiate a child custody agreement and a child support plan without having to go to court. As long as the agreement struck is reasonable, the judge will typically okay it. This saves time and heartache, and can help show your kids they are not causing you to fight or split up.
Alimony & Spousal Support
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is money paid by one ex-spouse to the other to help maintain their standard of living after a divorce. It is not paid in every divorce, but it is something that all divorcing couples must consider.
Whether spousal support payments are necessary depends on:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of the spouses
- The current and future earning abilities of the spouses
- How much time it would take to acquire job training or education to re-enter the workforce
- The ability of a spouse to work without interfering with childcare responsibilities
- The standard of living the spouses enjoyed during marriage
- The degree to which devotion to the domestic duties of marriage impaired a spouse’s career prospects
- Whether the spouse requesting alimony contributed to the other spouse’s career during the marriage
- The assets of both spouses
- The financial needs and responsibilities of both spouses
Attorney Bob Matteucci has helped many couples in Los Lunas negotiate spousal support agreements that are fair and equitable in light of these factors.
Serving Families in Los Lunas with Dignity & Compassion
Like the ranchers who settled Los Lunas centuries ago, Attorney Bob Matteucci is ready to shepherd you through New Mexico’s family court system. As someone who knows first-hand how completely a divorce will change your life, he is ready to discuss your priorities and pain points, and advise you what actions to take to secure you and your family’s future. Contact Bob today to discuss your case.