Divorce

Bristol Family Law understands the decision to divorce is difficult and must be handled carefully, with attention to detail.

We handle divorce with a commitment to secure a fair resolution for our clients--whether pursuing a litigated divorce or a collaborative divorce.

Collaborative Divorce replaces the combativeness of litigation with a cooperative process, which provides divorcing spouses with resources and options unavailable in a traditional litigated divorce process.

In the Collaborative divorce process, divorcing spouses sign an agreement that they will not go to court to resolve their differences.  Both spouses work with a Collaborative Team that supports and guides them through their divorces and the many issues that are part of the divorce process.  Each spouse is represented by a collaboratively trained lawyer and also may be supported by other collaboratively trained neutral professionals, such specialists who address finances, parenting issues, and support effective communication.  The number of collaboratively trained professionals on a team depends no the level of cooperation between divorcing spouses, their willingness and ability to commit to a healthy divorce, despite the level of complexity (emotional and financial) of the case.  

Litigated Divorce is a dissolution resolved through a court proscribed process. During the divorce process many issues, including complex issues, are present regarding spousal support, child support, child custody, asset and debt division, including high assets and complex businesses, which are addressed by agreement of the parties or by a judge.  Our priority is to ensure our client knows exactly what to expect throughout the litigated process and have the information and guidance needed to make the best decisions, both legal and personal.  Knowing what to expect can lessen stress and provide clarity when critical decisions must be made.  We explain the options specific to each case, along with appropriate recommendations to protect marital and parental rights.  If parties cannot resolve issues by agreement, then we fully prepare issues for hearing before the judge.  

After the divorce is final, post-divorce disputes may arise, such as modification of child support and custody orders, orders regarding the sale of property, entry or enforcement of retirement orders, or the enforcement of prior orders of the court.  We are fully prepared and will provide competent legal representation pertaining to any of these issues. 


Child Custody and Child Support

Child Custody and Child Support issues arise between parents going through divorce and parents who have never been married.  Bristol Family Law addresses parentage issues whether or not parents are married. 

Child Custody and timeshare (the time a parent has with the child) can be difficult and emotionally trying, and can arise in the dissolution process and continue for many years after the divorce. In most custody cases, parents must agree upon a timeshare arrangement that is reasonable both for the children and the parents, or the court will determine an arrangement. Decisions made during child custody cases will have significant impact on your children.

The presumption in New Mexico is that parents share joint legal custody over children, which means the parents share decision-making of the important matters in the child’s life. Parents generally share a roughly equal timeshare, unless reasons exist that this arrangement will not support the best interests of the child.

Some of the most contested court cases pertain to child custody and timeshare. The standard for custody and timeshare determinations is the “best interests of the child,” which is quite susceptible to different interpretations depending upon each parent’s point of view.  This issue can give rise to prolonged and expensive litigation with the appointment of expert psychologists, counselors, and a Guardian ad Litem (the child’s lawyer), if the issues warrant such appointments.  If parents cannot agree on the custody and timesharing of a child, then the Court, with the assistance of counselors at Family Court Services, and/or one or more the professionals detailed above, will make the decision for the parents.  Parents generally are much better served working through and resolving custody and timesharing issues together (keep the control in their hands), than allow a Court to decide. Moreover, children suffer during a custody battles.

Bristol Family Law makes every effort to assure that children do not suffer and that our client has time with his/her children.  Our priority is protecting the interest of the children involved in this difficult process, while helping a parent make the most informed decisions.  Our goal is to negotiate an arrangement that is in the best interests of the children.  If this is not possible, we are fully prepared to present the most effective argument to the Court.

Child Support is computed pursuant to the New Mexico Child Support Guidelines.  The guidelines are strictly followed by the Court, except in very limited situations.

Child Support is based upon the time a child spends with each parent, each parent’s gross income, and child related expenses–such as monthly medical, dental, and vision insurance, daycare expenses, and other extraordinary child expenses.

If you want to calculate child support, use the Child Support Calculator and follow the steps discussed on the webpage.  Assuming you have entered the correct information, the Child Support Calculator will produce a figure that may be close to what a Court would determine.

Contact us to discuss child support and to determine the amount of child support for setting initial child support or modifying an existing child support order.  Additionally, if a parent ordered to pay child support has failed to make child support payments as ordered, contact us to discuss how to seek judicial intervention to obtain child support.


Domestic Violence

Bristol Family Law helps clients obtain an order of protection (also called a restraining order), which provides protection from harm by a household member.  The order of protection protects you from abuse by a spouse or former spouse, parent, present or former stepparent or parent in-law, grandparent, grandparent in-law, stepchild, grandchild, co-parent of a child, or a person with whom you have had a continuing personal relationship (e.g. dating). The parties do not have to live in the same home to be considered household members. In fact, in situations of sexual assault and stalking, an order of protection can be issued regardless of the relationship between the alleged victim and the abuser.

An order of protection is designed to stop violent or harassing behavior and protect you and your family from the abuser.

If a household member has caused you physical harm, severe emotional distress, threatened you so that you fear bodily injury, criminally damaged property, has repeatedly driven by a residence or work place, harassed you over the telephone, harassed you, or harmed or threatened harm to children, then contact us to discuss the option of pursuing the entry of a protective order.

If a member of your household is seeking an order of protection against you, contact us to discuss how we might work with you to address the issue.