How is property divided in New Mexico?
Mary Ann R. Burmester’s Answer
During divorce, property must be identified, characterized as “separate” or “community”, and divided between the spouses. “Real property” consists of real estate that has a deed, such as a house, condominium, townhouse, land, mineral rights, and water rights. “Personal property” is pretty much everything else such as vehicles, motorcycles, boats, RVs, pets or livestock, etc. – things that normally have a title – as well as personal possessions like clothing, appliances, electronics, jewelry, art work, collectibles, and more.
The names on the deed or title are not necessarily definitive in saying whether the item is separate or community property. Here’s how it generally works.
Property you owned before you were married or that you received by gift or inheritance during the marriage is your separate property, and the proceeds of separate property remain separate property. For example, if you owned a house before marriage and you rented it out while married, the rent money continues to be your separate property as long as you didn’t use the rent money to pay for community debts or to put toward purchasing community property. You have to be able to trace or otherwise show exactly what rent money came from the rental house.
All property acquired while married is presumptively community property – including retirement benefits that build up during the marriage. Income earned after the wedding is also considered community property, even if only one spouse is employed. The person claiming something is separate property, or the proceeds of separate property, has the burden of proving it.
Sometimes couples, mix-up separate and community property so much that it cannot be traced.
Ask an experienced divorce lawyer to help you sort through and characterize your property.