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Child Support In New Mexico

Albuquerque Child Support Attorney Discusses New Mexico Laws

Child support in New Mexico is first determined by the amount of time you have with your children.

  • When the non-custodial parent has the child for less than 35% of the time, it is a “basic visitation” situation. Use Worksheet A.
  • If you have your child more than 35%, but less than 65%, of the time then it is “shared responsibility” situation. Use Worksheet B.
  • If there is one child, and it is a Worksheet A case, the New Mexico child support guidelines dictate that you pay between 11 and 20% of your gross income as base child support. This percentage fluctuates with the gross income of the parties.
  • Other factors, like daycare and health insurance, can also increase the amount of support you pay.

The Child Support Statute, NMSA (1978) §40-4-11.1 has specific information, and the CSED website also has a child support calculator that can help you calculate what the obligation should be.

People who are paying child support generally want to be on Worksheet B, because the amount of support paid is lower. A Worksheet B situation should also mean that these individuals are responsible for sharing the “expenses” of parenting. Worksheet A does not have that feature in its definition, and arguably if the kids need school clothes and you are the non-custodial parent, you can tell the other party that your child support is paid for your share of the support.

The Court is going to have jurisdiction over the child support until the child is 18 and out of high school, or 19 and still in school. If there is more than one child involved, you need to have the Court adjust your child support when one of the children reaches the age of majority (and is out of high school). You cannot make unilateral changes to the support. The Court will have jurisdiction while your child is still a minor. If there is a substantial change in circumstances, the Court can entertain a Motion for Child Support Modification.

Reducing Child Support Payments

Some people paying child support really do not like paying it. They think it is too much, or the the other parent is going to misuse the funds. Or perhaps they think they are not even the parent of the child. Individuals like this have tried every argument under the sun. The courts usually hold a claim that child support should be less than what the guidelines say to a very tough standard.

The statute has the following features which are available to possibly reduce your guideline obligation:

  • if you are paying, and are in compliance with a prior court order on child support for a different child, then you can reduce your monthly income by those payments;
  • if you have the child for more than one uninterrupted month, like over the summer, then you can ask that your support be abated (not paid) during that period of time (this is not mandatory on the Court;
  • and, you can also argue that your support should not be increased because you have had subsequent children (but again, it is not mandatory that the court accept this argument).

The most common strategy to limit your child support payments is to increase your time with your children. You will then use Worksheet B rather than Worksheet A. From a tactical standpoint, it probably is not a good idea to make this last argument when you are being sued for not paying your child support. People try it, but the judge has a pretty big pigeon hole for non-payors who are threatening their ex by trying to take the children away.

Increasing Child Support Payments

It is far easier to have the guideline support increased than it is to have it reduced. The most common way child support is increased is through work related daycare. This cost is added to the worksheet. Each party then pays it in proportion to their share of the parties’ total income. If Dad makes 75% of the total income, he pays 75% of the daycare cost. The same factors apply to health insurance costs. Long term transportation and communication costs, for when the parties live in different areas, can also be included here. Those inclusions can work in either parties’ favor.

The Obligation to Work – Imputed Income

If one of the parties is “actively caring” for a child under the age of six, they have no obligation to be employed. They may enter zero as their income on the child support worksheet. A parent does have the obligation to be employed to “full capacity.” If they are not, the court can impute a full capacity income to them. This means the court uses the income they think the individual can earn on the child support worksheet. This situation can be extremely tough on an individual who has lost their job. If the court doesn’t believe the reasons you lost your job, or that you are trying to find work, they will impute income to you.

Contact a Trusted Albuquerque Child Support Lawyer

Do you have questions about your child support obligations in New Mexico? Connect with William J. Morgan, an experienced child support attorney in Albuquerque, today.

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