Do I have to retain a lawyer in order to get a legal separation from my husband or can I do this myself at our local courts. We have been married 16 years and have 3 girls,14 and 12yr old twins. There has been verbal and some physical abuse on his part towards the girls and they do not want to stay with him. I do know, however that he has the right to see them. What are our legal rights and where do I start.
1 Answer from Attorneys
You asked a lot there. You don't have to have a lawyer, you can find pro se packages online at http://www.nmcompcomm.us/nmrules/nmruleset.aspx?rs=4A. SeveraL packages are available depending on whether you can agree on custody and property split.
The 11th district court has an office in Aztec, and they have some limited forms available that you can ask about. That district is not particularly friendly to Pro Se so the clerks there are limited in what they can tell you, they are restricted from giving you legal advice and that restriction is pretty broadly construed.
If you in good faith know of or suspect abuse of a child you are supposed to report it to CYFD, they have a hotline 1-855-333-SAFE  or #SAFE from a cell phone. Making a report like this in a divorce situation can be sort of suspect because a lot of reports are made not in good faith but to cause trouble for a spouse or gain an advantage in a custody earing. Think carefully before you make a report, whether the activity you are calling abuse is serious enough to warrant intervention by the state or whether, for example, it could be put down to a disagreement between people with different standards on appropriate disciplinary measures. These reports can result in CYFD taking custody of the kids, or in criminal charges, for example, and in very intrusive investigations that can leave you, your ex, and the kids traumatized.
Hope that helps some. If you want to e-mail me or call me I can give you some more help. [email protected], 505 662-5900.