Maria Montoya Chavez

Maria Montoya Chavez


MARIA MONTOYA CHAVEZ is President and CEO of Sutin, Thayer & Browne. She has been a lawyer since 2000 and practices exclusively in family law: divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of complex assets such as professional practices and other businesses in the divorce context. She is a Collaborative Law-trained attorney and enjoys serving as a mediator and settlement facilitator.

Ms. Montoya Chavez understands that going through a divorce is one of the most difficult times of a person’s life on many levels. She approaches each case by providing the client with an understanding of the legal issues, provides knowledge about available options and attempts to first resolve the matter amicably. If it appears being reasonable is not working in a particular situation, Ms. Montoya Chavez has the experience to be an effective Court Advocate.

Ms. Montoya Chavez has had several collaborative divorce cases in which the parties remained in control of the divorce outcome and out of court. She is a Board Member of the New Mexico Collaborative Practice Group and has been a member of the Albuquerque Collaborative Practice Group, where she served on several committees. She has been a presenter at various family law and collaborative law seminars, so as to train attorneys in domestic relations matters.

Ms. Montoya Chavez also has expertise with conducting mediations and settlement facilitations.  When serving in such capacities, she strives to build bridges to resolution and to provide options to parties so they can remain in control of their process.

She is dedicated to helping clients be the best they can be both during and after the divorce.  Ms. Montoya Chavez’s commitment to family law is further shown by her involvement with the “Divorce Options Workshop” in which she educates the public on divorce and custody, and her volunteer work with the Second Judicial District’s “Family Law Clinic” where unrepresented people inquire into domestic relations matters.

Ms. Montoya Chavez has particular expertise in same-sex adoption cases whereby, while working with the American Civil Liberties Union, she succeeded in having the Court issue a Temporary Decree of Adoption, as the law did not fully protect a child born into this type of family.



  • New Mexico, 2000
  • U.S. District Court, District of New Mexico, 2001


  • St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, 1999, J.D.
  • University of New Mexico, 1995, B.S.

Publications & Speeches

  • Speaker, University of New Mexico School of Law, Collaborative Basic Training, April 2022 and April 2023
  • Speaker, Divorce Options Workshop at State Bar of New Mexico, 2015 to current, first Wednesday of each month
  • Panel Speaker, State Bar of New Mexico, Third Annual Women In Law Conference: Transitions in the Legal Profession, “How to Stay Balanced During Life-Changing Events,” December 2022
  • Speaker, Albuquerque Bar Association, CLE: “2021 Child Support Changes,” November 2021
  • Panel Speaker, University of New Mexico School of Law, Community Property Class, October 2021
  • Speaker, New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association, Women in the Courtroom, 2018
  • Speaker, Collaborative Law Symposium, 2018
  • Speaker, State Bar of New Mexico, Basics of Family Law, 2017
  • Speaker, Association for Play Therapy, “What is Collaborative Divorce, and What is a Play Therapist’s Role?”, 2016
  • Speaker, Collaborative Law Symposium, 2013
  • Speaker, National Business Institute, Adoption Law: Start to Finish, 2012
  • Speaker, Family Law Section Presents “Basics of Family Law,” 2012
  • Speaker, 2011 Collaborative Law Symposium
  • Speaker, Family Law Section Presents “Basics of Family Law,” 2008, for which the Crest Award was received
  • Speaker, State Bar of New Mexico Annual Meeting, 2009
  • Speaker, State Bar of New Mexico Bridge the Gap: Family Law Basics, 2006, 2007 and 2008
  • Speaker, National Business Institute, Collaborative Family Law and Family Law, 2005, 2006 and 2008
  • Master of Ceremony, Family Law Symposium, 2007 and 2009
  • Master of Ceremony, Collaborative Law Symposium, 2008, 2009 and 2010
  • Publication, New Mexico Lawyer: Advising a Client on Alimony Issues in Hard Economic Times, 2012
  • Publication, New Mexico Lawyer, Collaborative Divorce, 2007
  • Publication, Defining Woman, Collaborative Divorce: Nope, It’s Not an Oxymoron, Spring 2007


  • Best Lawyers in America, Albuquerque Lawyer of the Year, Family Law Mediation, 2024
  • Top 3 Divorce Attorneys, Albuquerque Journal Readers’ Choice Awards, 2023
  • Nominated as New Mexico Collaborative Practice Group’s Best Collaborative Practitioner of the Year, 2023
  • Best Lawyers in America, Albuquerque Lawyer of the Year, Family Law Mediation, 2022
  • Top Divorce Attorney, Albuquerque Journal Readers’ Choice Awards, 2022
  • Best Lawyers in America, Albuquerque Lawyer of the Year, Family Law, 2020
  • Best Lawyers in America, Albuquerque Lawyer of the Year, Family Law Mediation, 2020
  • Top Divorce Attorney, Albuquerque Journal Readers’ Choice Awards, 2020
  • “Hero” Award, Del Norte Rotary, 2019
  • Martindale-Hubbell Rating: AV Preeminent
  • New Mexico Woman of Influence, Albuquerque Business First, 2018
  • Best Lawyers in America for Collaborative Law: Family Law, Family Law, Family Law Arbitration, and Family Law Mediation
  • New Mexico Young Board Member of the Year, National Philanthropy Day 2011, by YNPN and APF
  • Southwest Super Lawyers
  • “40 Under 40,” New Mexico Business Weekly, 2011
  • CLE Crest Award for Presentation at “Family Law Basics,” 2008
  • Co-founder and Editor Scholar, St. Mary’s Law Review on Minority Issues, 1998-1999

Best Lawyers Award Badge


Professional & Community Involvement

  • Sutin, Thayer & Browne, President and CEO, 2023
  • Del Norte Rotary Club of Albuquerque, past Sergeant-at-Arms and past Vice President
  • Sutin, Thayer & Browne, Vice President, 2021-present
  • Sutin, Thayer & Browne, Board of Directors, 2018-present
  • New Mexico Collaborative Practice Group, Board of Directors, 2020-present
  • Family Law Section, State Bar of New Mexico, past Chair
  • New Mexico and Albuquerque Collaborative Practice Groups, Member
  • Leadership New Mexico; Connect 2011-2012, Member
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Member
  • Adoption and Foster Care Alliance of New Mexico, Member
  • Keshet Dance Company, former Board President

Representative Experience

  • Divorce
  • Collaborative divorce
  • Mediation and Settlement Facilitation
  • Child Custody and Time Sharing
  • Child Support
  • Alimony
  • Experience with valuation and division of comples assets (professional practices, businesses) in the divorce context
  • Adoptions, including those for same-sex couples
  • Hague Convention abduction cases
  • Interstate custody and child support jurisdiction

“Maria Montoya Chavez is the best attorney I’ve ever hired. She is thorough, smart, extremely intelligent and personable. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her to anyone who needs a good family law attorney.”

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