|Home > Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
I can’t afford to pay the filing fee to get my case filed with the court. Is there anyway the court can help me?
If you meet certain income requirements, the Court may waive the filing fee. In the clerk’s office, ask for the Free Process paperwork. The form will ask you to list your income, dependents and expenses. After completing the form, the clerk will direct you to the judge’s office. If the judge finds that you meet the income requirements for free process, he/she will sign an Order of Free Process. Take the signed order to the clerk’s office when filing your complaint or petition and the filing fee will be waived.
Why is it important that I know the case name and the court number?
At the Court, all cases are indexed by case name (the names of the plaintiff/petitioner and defendant/respondent) and by case number. To get information on the case, knowing the case name and number makes it easy for the clerk’s office to retrieve the case file and provide the information you need.
Why doesn’t Cibola County have court records before July 1981?
Cibola County was created on June 18, 1981. Before this date, it was part of Valencia County. Any court cases before 1981 were filed in the District Court located in Los Lunas. The 13th Judicial District Court itself was created in 1971 and included Sandoval and Valencia Counties. Before this date, Valencia County was part of the 7th Judicial District Court and Sandoval County was part of the 2d Judicial District Court.
My case number is long. Do the letters and numbers mean anything?
Yes, every letter and number in your case number is a unique way of identifying your case.
For example D-1329-DM06-00013 means the following:
D = case filed in a district court
1329 = case filed in Sandoval County (1314 is Valencia and 1333 is Cibola)
DM = is the type of case, Domestic Matters.
Other abbreviations are:
JR (Juvenile Delinquency),
PQ (Probate Sequestered)
JQ (Juvenile Sequestered)
SQ (Adult Sequestered)
DV (Domestic Violence)
06-00013 = the case was filed in 2006 and is the thirteenth DM case filed
How do I get a copy of my hearing on tape or CD?
Visit the clerk’s office and fill out a copy request for a tape or CD. You must include the date of the hearing, judge’s name, case name and case number in the request. The cost for a tape or CD is $4.00 in cash or money order. It usually takes one week to process your request.
Can I speak to a judge or hearing commissioner?
The judge or commissioner cannot speak to any party in a case outside of a court hearing. The reason they cannot speak to you outside of a hearing is fairness to the parties. Both parties have the right to be present whenever there is communication with a judge or commissioner.
Can I get a refund of my filing fee or jury fee from the Court?
Pursuant to LR13- 601, jury and filing fees are non-refundable in whole or in part. Fees must be paid when the petition is filed and will not be refunded for any reason including dismissal, mistake or error. This no refund policy shall be strictly enforced in the 13th Judicial District Court.
I was applying for a job and a criminal record search was done. My juvenile record came up. Aren’t these automatically sealed?
In New Mexico, juvenile delinquency records are not automatically sealed. They remain public record unless you petition the Court to have the records sealed. Records can be sealed only if two years have elapsed from the time you were released from probation or your case was otherwise disposed. The court clerk’s office has a Sealing Juvenile Records forms packet that is free. Along with the forms are simple, clear instructions for petitioning the Court to seal the records.
I want to emancipate myself from my parents. How is this done?
Any minor who is sixteen years or older may file a Petition for Declaration of Emancipation if the minor is willingly living separate and apart from parents, is managing their own financial affairs and the Court finds it in the minor’s best interest to declare the minor emancipated.
How do I get papers served? Can I or anyone else do it?
Rule 1-004 of the Rules of Civil Procedure for district courts describes in detail how to serve a person. If possible, the defendant or respondent should be personally served with the paperwork. However, there are other methods if personal service cannot be achieved. If you are involved or connected to the case, you CANNOT serve the paperwork. Paperwork can be served by the Sheriff, private process servers or a person 18 years of age or older and not a party to the case. The clerk’s office has the forms for Summons and Service of Process.
I can’t physically locate the person to whom I have to serve my court papers. Can I still proceed with my case?
If you have made a serious effort to locate the defendant/respondent and he/she cannot be located, you may serve that party by publication. The clerk’s office offers free Service by Publication form packets that include simple, clear instructions for proceeding in this manner.
I have to serve a person by publication in a newspaper. Can I use any newspaper?
By Civil Court Rule 1-004, the court may allow service by publication if the legal notice is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county which is most likely to give the defendant notice of the action. General circulation means that the newspaper is easily accessible at various locations in the county. For example, convenience stores, restaurants, etc. Publish in a newspaper that is in general circulation in the county where the defendant was last known to live.
In Cibola County, the newspapers of general circulation are:
- Albuquerque Journal
- Albuquerque Tribune
- Cibola County Beacon
In Sandoval County, the newspapers of general circulation are:
- Albuquerque Journal
- Albuquerque Tribune
- Rio Rancho Observer
- Sandoval Sentinel
In Valencia County, the newspapers of general circulation are:
- Albuquerque Journal
- Albuquerque Tribune
If the defendant/respondent doesn’t show up for the hearing, what happens?
In civil, domestic matters or domestic violence cases, if the defendant/respondent does not show up for a hearing, and has not contacted the judge’s office stating they are unable to attend the hearing, the Court may find you are entitled to a default judgment. In other words, whatever damages or conditions you intended to ask the Court for at the hearing may be granted by the Court. In criminal cases, if the defendant fails to appear for a hearing, a bench warrant may be issued by the Court.
How do you get a court date or hearing? When should I ask for a court date or hearing? How soon will I have a hearing?
Anytime after an answer/response is filed to a complaint/petition, a party may ask the Court for a hearing on the issues. The party requesting the hearing must fill out a Request for Hearing Form, a Notice of Hearing Form and bring stamped, addressed envelopes so that the Notice of Hearing, when completed by the judge’s staff, can be mailed to all the parties who must attend the hearing. The Request and Notice of Hearing forms are available in the clerk’s office. How soon you get a hearing depends on your assigned judge’s court schedule, that is, all the other cases the judge has to hear in court before your case.
Something serious has come up and I cannot make my court hearing date. What do I do?
If you cannot make a court hearing on the day of the hearing, immediately call the judge’s office. You must have a very serious reason. Explain to the judge’s staff what the situation is. The judge may grant a continuance, that is, allow the hearing to be reset for another day.
If you know in advance the court date conflicts with another serious matter, file a Motion for Continuance with the Court and mail the motion to all the parties. A General Motion and Order form packet that includes simple, clear instructions is available in the clerk’s office to help you write a Motion for Continuance. Include your reasons for the continuance in the Motion. They must be serious reasons. If the judge allows the continuance, he/she will sign your prepared Order Allowing Continuance. REMEMBER: if a continuance is granted, you must file another set of Request and Notice of Hearing forms.
How should I prepare for a court hearing?
A court hearing could be on all the issues in the case or on limited issues in the case. In either situation, have ready for court everything you need to argue your issue(s) such as your original documents, photographs, medical records, witnesses, etc.
Remember, the Court has limited time in which to conduct the hearing. Plan to be concise when presenting your side of the case. It is suggested you prepare an outline of your argument(s) so that you remember what points you wish to make in Court and what witnesses and/or evidence you want to introduce at the hearing.
It has been over thirty days since the defendant was served with the Petition/Complaint and he/she hasn’t filed an answer. What do I do?
If the defendant has not filed a response or answer more than thirty days after the defendant was served with the Petition/Complaint, then you may file for Default Judgment. The clerk’s office has a free Default Judgment legal form packet that tell you what forms to fill out with clear, simple instructions.
When you do motion the Court for Default Judgment, you must have the following “package” of paperwork complete and filed with the court: Certificate as to the State of the Record, Affidavit of Non-Military Service and the Motion for Default Judgment. A copy of each of these documents is submitted to the judge’s office along with the Request and Notice of Hearing and addressed, stamped envelopes for the parties entitled to notice of the hearing on your Motion for Default Judgment.
I posted bond money for someone. How do I get it back?
If you personally posted a bond for a defendant, keep the receipt issued to you by the clerk’s office. If the defendant appeared at all his hearings and was sentenced, you are entitled to the return of the bond money. A Motion to Release the Bond and an Order Releasing Bond is prepared by the defendant’s attorney. Both the defendant’s attorney and the district attorney must sign the Motion. The Motion and Order are presented to the judge for his/her signature. Once the Order is signed by the Judge it is filed in the clerk’s office.
Or, the Judgment and Sentence document the judge signs may include the language ordering the return of the bond money. You need to check with the defendant’s attorney whether the Judgment and Sentence document or an Order Releasing Bond has the language that releases the bond money back to you.
Bring your receipt and a picture I.D. to the clerk’s office after the Order is signed or the Judgment and Sentence is filed. A refund of the bond will be issued by the clerk.
How do I get a public defender?
In criminal or juvenile delinquency cases, a public defender attorney is appointed by the Court if the defendant or juvenile meet certain income guidelines. Any defendant or juvenile may fill out the paperwork that asks questions about income and expenses. If the defendant or juvenile falls within the income guidelines allowing the Court to appoint a public defender, the Court will sign the paperwork and the clerk’s office will assign the defendant or juvenile a public defender attorney.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
In the case of a divorce where both parties agree on the community property/debt, a parenting plan, child support, etc. the divorce can become final fairly quickly. Uncontested divorces do not require any court hearings. Instead, uncontested paperwork, signed by both parties, is submitted to the judge’s office and a Final Decree of Divorce is signed by the judge.
If the divorce is contested, that is, the parties cannot agree on certain issues like community property/debt, a parenting plan, etc., the time it takes to reach a Final Decree of Divorce depends on how many hearings must be held to settle the contested issues.
I am filing for divorce and do not make much money. My husband/wife makes the big paycheck. Is there anyway I can continue to get financial support from my husband/wife until the divorce is final?
Yes, by filing a Motion for Interim Allocation of Income and Expenses with the Court. The Motion requires both parties complete a Statement of Interim Income and Expenses. At the hearing on the Motion for Interim Allocation, the Court determines if one party owes the other party a certain monthly income until the divorce is final. This Motion and related paperwork is included in the free Divorce without Children or the Divorce with Children legal form packets available in the clerk’s office.
My husband/wife won’t sign any of the divorce papers. Can I still get divorced? Yes, you can still proceed with the divorce. If the respondent refuses to sign the papers, you are involved in a contested divorce. A contested divorce simply means the parties cannot agree on how to divide the community property/debt, a parenting plan, support, etc. In a contested divorce situation, a party asks the Court for a hearing on the contested issues in the divorce.
My husband/ wife and I are divorcing and can’t agree on how to divide our property, how to share the kids, etc. What can we do?
Either party or both parties can ask the Court to refer their case to mediation at any time. The Court assigns an experienced mediator to discuss the contested issues, explore options and come to an agreement that satisfies both parties with the added goal of keeping the relationship between the parties non-adversarial. The cost to each party is $50 which provides up to eight (8) hours of mediation.
The other party isn’t following the court order about visitation, support, etc. Why isn’t the court doing anything about it?
After an Order is entered by the Court, the Court does not have any resources to monitor the parties to ensure they are following the Order. If one party is not following the conditions set by the Court, then the complaining party must file a Motion to Show Cause and demonstrate how the opposing party is not complying with the Court’s Order. This paperwork is available in the clerk’s office. A hearing must take place. At the hearing, the party who is not complying with the Order has an opportunity to be heard. If there is no reason why the Order is not being followed, the Court may hold the non-complying party in contempt of court and impose sanctions.
He/she won’t let me see the kids. What do I do?
If you are in the process of getting a divorce or establishing paternity/visitation, you may file a Motion for Temporary Visitation with the Court. The Motion requires a hearing. At the hearing, the party who is not allowing the kids to see their other parent must have serious reasons why they are withholding visitation. If there are no reasons, the Court will enter an Order Granting Temporary Visitation. This Order remains in effect until the final parenting plan is in place.
If you are already divorced or have already gone through establishing parentage, you must file a Motion to Show Cause and demonstrate how the opposing party is not complying with the Court’s Order. This paperwork is available in the clerk’s office. A hearing must take place. At the hearing, the party who is not complying with the Order has an opportunity to be heard. If there is no reason why the Order is not being followed, the Court may hold the non-complying party in contempt of court and impose sanctions.
He/she won’t pay me child support for the kids. What do I do? Can I stop him/her from seeing the kids until he/she pays?
Never withhold visits with the kids because child support hasn’t been paid. These are separate issues that are determined separately. You cannot punish the non-paying parent by refusing visitation with their kids. What you can do is file a Motion to Show Cause and demonstrate how the opposing party is not complying with the Court’s Order to pay child support. This paperwork is available in the clerk’s office. A hearing must take place. At the hearing, the party who is not complying with the Order has an opportunity to be heard. If there is no reason why the Order is not being followed, the Court may hold the non-complying party in contempt of court and impose sanctions.
You may also wish to have the Court issue a Wage Withholding Order so that the money is sent directly to you for support from the employer.
I think I pay too much child support. Can I do anything about it?
How much a parent pays for child support is determined by New Mexico’s child support laws. To pay less than the child support laws means you must show to the Court an important change in your circumstances that seriously affect your ability to pay the support required by law. If this is the case, file a Motion to Amend Child Support telling the court what serious changes in your circumstances affect your ability to currently pay the court ordered child support.
How old does a child have to be before he/she can decide which parent to live with?
A minor child does not have the legal right to decide which parent he/she will live with. However, in determining visitation, custody or placement of a minor child, the wishes of the minor child is a factor the Court may consider in making the decision.
I want to move the kids out of the State of New Mexico. What do I have to do? Check you parenting plan. Generally the language of the plan states neither parent will move the children out of state unless both parents agree or the Court allows one of you to do so. Unless the Court has granted you sole legal custody of your children, or the other parent of the children agrees to the move, it is complicated process and will require a court hearing.