Owner of Santa Fe and Albuquerque’s Walther Family Law, Gretchen Walther has practiced family law for 14 years and has conducted hundreds of divorces. Walther is married and has never been divorced.
SFR: What’s the most important thing to know about someone before you marry that person?
GW: What their future plans are regarding finances. Their ability to deal with finances. Their understanding of finances.
What does a good marriage look like?
A good marriage is where the couple is able to communicate openly and honestly about financial issues as well as emotional issues. A couple that are able to have a sense of humor, they’re statistically more likely to stay together.
Have you ever advised a couple to stick it out?
Yeah, all the time. Everyone that comes in to see me, I explore counseling with them as an option.
Have you ever conducted a divorce of a couple you felt could have made it?
Yes. One example would be when there’s a tragedy in the family such as the death of a child or one of the spouses loses a parent—that can create a lot of emotional turmoil in that person. I think those people could stay together if they’re willing to work through the emotional issues.
What’s the most creative way you’ve seen a spurned spouse get even?
A wife gets the husband’s Porsche in a divorce and puts on a personalized license plate that says, ‘was his.’
What’s more painful, a divorce or a root canal?
Definitely a divorce. I’ve had six root canals—they’re actually not that bad these days.
Do you know the exact divorce rate in New Mexico?
Approximately 50 to 55 percent for first marriages and 70 percent for second.
Why so much higher on the second go-around?
People are often trying to blend two families together, which creates a lot of relationship challenges. An example would be in the second marriage the husband has to pay spousal support and child support to his first wife, and the second wife is saying, ‘Hey, half your paycheck is going to them. What about our family?’
We’re no Nevada but, for a Catholic state, New Mexico has a relatively high divorce rate. Why?
I don’t know. I was wondering that too. There was just an article done in the New Mexico Business Weekly and its statistics show that our divorce rate is higher here and that we divorce lawyers aren’t experiencing a decline in business due to the economy, even though divorce lawyers across the nation are experiencing a decline in business.
So your business is up during the recession?
Hypothetically, how much and how long would it take me to get a quickie divorce? I own nothing.
I have a lot of people come in and say, ‘Hey, I want a quickie divorce.’ People are hopeful that there won’t be conflict, so they kind of imagine there won’t be, but there ends up being conflict because someone is angry or resentful or sad or depressed that the divorce is happening, and that often in itself will create a lot of conflict. On average, a divorce takes six months to 1½ years.
Do you believe two people can be happy together their whole lives?
Absolutely. No question.