Child Support Laws in New Mexico
In New Mexico, child support is automatically assessed as part of a dissolution of marriage (divorce) proceeding for a couple that has at least one child under the age of 18. This assessment is made regardless of whether both parents agree to forego a formal child support arrangement between themselves.
The court will automatically apply a formula based on both parents’ incomes as well as the child’s anticipated need, forming a guideline amount. One or both parents can request a deviation from this guideline, but they must justify this request while demonstrating that the child’s best interests are being taken into consideration.
Because child support is assessed automatically, some parents may feel frustrated at the seeming inability to come up with a workable agreement between the divorcing couple. In truth, the court does not frown upon deviations; they merely assess the guideline as a form of due diligence based on past experience. Many parents will underestimate the costs of raising a child. Without calculating the needed contributions from both parents, the child could soon be in a situation where they have unmet needs and no court-sanctioned way to quickly have those needs met.
Having your deviation granted comes down to convincing not just the courts but your divorcing spouse that the proposed agreement is in everyone’s best interests, most of all the child’s. New Mexico Financial & Family law can help you anticipate the guideline amount and then work towards a deviation that has a high chance of satisfying the court’s standards.
New Mexico Financial & Family Law approaches each case individually. Although most New Mexico divorce cases address common issues, such as New Mexico Child Support, each of our clients has specific needs and goals, so we design a strategy that considers all of their personal circumstances, needs, and goals. We always thoroughly explain the legal options and the likely consequences to the client so our clients can make an informed decision about the best course of action for themselves.
Learn more about child support laws, how to calculate the guideline amount, and what factors to consider when requesting a deviation during a confidential, no-obligation consultation with an Albuquerque, New Mexico divorce attorney. Schedule your risk-free appointment now; call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online.
New Mexico Divorce Law – Child Support Can Deviate From The Guidelines
Child Support, under New Mexico Divorce Law, is determined primarily by the use of a formula.
However, there are circumstances whereby the amount of child support can deviate from this formula. New Mexico Financial & Family Law can assist you in completing the child support worksheet, and then we can guide and represent you before the courts if there are circumstances where the guidelines are not appropriate.
Child Support issues are one of the most prevalent reasons for seeking a Divorce Decree Modification. It is not unusual if a divorce occurs when children are young, for numerous requests for modification are filed. Anticipating your own needs, your child’s needs, and your ability to pay can help you avoid modifications by requesting a deviation that is more workable given your situation.
New Mexico Child Support Calculator
New Mexico Financial & Family Law has prepared an online New Mexico Child Support Calculator.
It’s important to note that this New Mexico Child Support Calculator represents calculations based on the most current information, as provided by the New Mexico statute. The purpose of this calculator is informational and educational only. It does not constitute legal advice. The court has the final authority to determine the amount of any child support awarded. The numbers provided by this calculator are only estimates and are not a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be awarded. Other factors may also affect the amount of child support awarded.
Please contact New Mexico Financial & Family Law for more detailed information.
Monthly Child Support Obligation Worksheet
The New Mexico Human Services Department has published the New Mexico Child Support Obligation Worksheet and instructions. By clicking on the link you can see and print this form.
The court has also provided a New Mexico Child Support Worksheet online tool to help you pre-fill out the form by answering basic questions, one at a time. When you are done responding, a form will be prepared with all provided answers already filled into the appropriate spot and all calculations made.
The form is not difficult to understand or complete, but you should be aware that with proper guidance and special circumstances the courts can consider factors that can increase or decrease the actual child support payments from the worksheet’s values. Contact our firm to discuss this all-important financial matter for divorce in New Mexico.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support in New Mexico
How Long Is Child Support Paid?
The contributing parent is obligated to pay child support until the child’s 18th birthday. If the child would turn 19 before they graduated high school, then support is likely to continue until the child’s graduation.
In cases where the child would have limited ability to earn income because of a qualifying physical and/or mental disability, the court may order child support to be paid indefinitely.
What Determines Which Parent Pays Child Support?
The New Mexico child support worksheet automatically determines the expected total monthly amount that will be contributed to the child’s upbringing based on both parents’ combined gross income. The worksheet then calculates the expected portion contributed from each parent based on their respective incomes. In cases of shared custody, the expected contributions are deducted by the percentage of days in a calendar year out of 365 that the child is expected to be with their parent. I.e.: Parents aren’t paying for the support provided on days when the child is under their supervision.
Once these calculations are made, the court will determine the difference between the two expected contributions, and the parent with the greater contribution will pay the difference to the parent with the lower contribution.
Put more simply: the parent who earns more gross income will usually be the one to pay child support, but this can be affected by the amount of time the child spends with this parent. If parents earn roughly equal income, then support will likely go towards the parent who has the child most often throughout the year, and it will be paid by the parent who has the child less often.
What Is Included in the Gross Income Calculation?
Gross income includes not just wages and salaries but also, “tips, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, significant in-kind benefits that reduce personal living expenses, prizes and alimony or maintenance received.”
This income may be deducted as is appropriate. Usually, deductions are applied to the income of a parent who is self-employed or who is operating a business for which they deduct expenses from their primary income. These expenses must be “ordinary and necessary,” according to the standards of the IRS.
Does the Guideline Amount Account for the Child’s Actual Needs?
Yes. The guideline amount is adjusted according to the child’s expected needs. This need encompasses food, clothing, shelter, and certain expenses necessary to support a roughly equivalent lifestyle to which they were accustomed before the divorce. Health and dental insurance are included in this need, as would be any necessary child care that would be provided while the parent in possession of the child is working. In many instances, the guideline amount will also include “extraordinary” medical, dental, and educational expenses, as well as expenses related to long-distance visitation or time-sharing.
If I Get Remarried, Does My New Spouse’s Income Affect My Calculated Contribution?
No. Remarried parents would not add any income brought to their household by a new spouse to the guideline calculation. However, in some cases, a modification or deviation may be granted based on a significant change in a parent’s income or living situation as a result of remarriage.
Is There Any Way to Agree to Not Have Any Child Support?
This is extremely unlikely, if not impossible. Child support belongs to the child, so a parent cannot waive the right to receive the support that would rightfully go towards their child.
The court automatically assesses the guideline amount, and any significant deviation from this amount must be justified to the court’s satisfaction. Note that the court will be wary of waiving child support requirements even in situations where the primary custodial parent or both parents earn plenty of income to comfortably raise the child. This situation might change, and the court must establish a baseline to ensure the child’s needs can be met even in the face of uncertain factors. The court also wants each parent to contribute “their fair share” to the upbringing of the child, as determined by a comparison between their incomes.
In situations where both parents would contribute roughly the same amount to child support, meaning the support needed would be negligible, the court is still very unlikely to waive the requirement for child support altogether. Having an established amount is important in case situations change, and a guideline can provide a basis for further court decisions while holding both parents generally accountable for contributing to the child’s upbringing.
New Mexico Financial & Family Can Assist You With Calculating Child Support, Requesting a Deviation, or Requesting a Decree Modification
Deviating from the guideline amount requires the support of facts and the ability to demonstrate sufficient cause for the deviation. In other words, you must be able to prove to the court’s satisfaction that your deviation still meets the child’s needs and that there are sound legal and personal reasons that you think the deviation should be approved.
Similarly, when requesting a modification, the court will need proof that your request is justified, such as following a dramatic change in income after losing a job. The court also needs proof that the child’s needs will still be met once the modification is granted.
In any case, it benefits a parent to have an experienced and knowledgeable New Mexico family law supporting and representing them. New Mexico Financial & Family Law has assisted individuals during divorce and post-divorce in a huge variety of case types. We can help you understand what to expect in your case and how to set goals that can be achieved through the legal system.
Learn more about child support, deviations, modifications, and other family law matters during a confidential, risk-free, no-obligation consultation. Call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online to schedule your consultation now.
New Mexico Divorce Law – Child Support Guidelines
- 40-4-11.1. Child support; guidelines. (from NMHSD web site)
- In any action to establish or modify child support, the child support guidelines as set forth in this section shall be applied to determine the child support due and shall be a rebuttable presumption for the amount of such child support. Every decree or judgment of child support that deviates from the guideline amount shall contain a statement of the reasons for the deviation.
- The purposes of the child support guidelines are to:
- establish as state policy an adequate standard of support for children, subject to the ability of parents to pay;
- make awards more equitable by ensuring more consistent treatment of persons in similar circumstances; and
- improve the efficiency of the court process by promoting settlements and giving courts and the parties guidance in establishing levels of awards.
- For purposes of the guidelines specified in this section:
- “income” means the actual gross income of a parent if employed to full capacity or potential income if unemployed or underemployed. Income need not be imputed to the primary custodial parent actively caring for a child of the parties who is under the age of six or disabled. If income is imputed, a reasonable child care expense may be imputed. The gross income of a parent means only the income and earnings of that parent and not the income of subsequent spouses, notwithstanding the community nature of both incomes after remarriage; and
- “gross income” includes income from any source and includes but is not limited to income from salaries, wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, significant in-kind benefits that reduce personal living expenses, prizes and alimony or maintenance received, provided:
- “gross income” shall not include benefits received from means-tested public assistance programs or child support received by a parent for the support of other children;
- for income from self-employment, rent, royalties, proprietorship of a business or joint ownership of a partnership or closely held corporation, “gross income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce such income, but ordinary and necessary expenses do not include expenses determined by the court to be inappropriate for purposes of calculating child support;
- “gross income” shall not include the number of alimony payments actually paid in compliance with a court order;
- “gross income” shall not include the amount of child support actually paid by a parent in compliance with a court order for the support of prior children; and
- “gross income” shall not include a reasonable amount for a parent’s obligation to support prior children who are in that parent’s custody. A duty to support subsequent children is not ordinarily a basis for reducing support owed to children of the parties but may be a defense to a child support increase for the children of the parties. In raising such a defense, a party may use Table A as set forth in Subsection K of this section to calculate the support for the subsequent children.
- As used in this section:
- “children of the parties” means the natural or adopted child or children of the parties to the action before the court but shall not include the natural or adopted child or children of only one of the parties;
- “basic visitation” means a custody arrangement whereby one parent has physical custody and the other parent has visitation with the children of the parties less than thirty-five percent of the time. Such arrangements can exist where the parties share responsibilities pursuant to Section 40-4-9.1 NMSA 1978; and
- “shared responsibility” means a custody arrangement whereby each parent provides a suitable home for the children of the parties when the children spend at least thirty-five percent of the year in each home and the parents significantly share the duties, responsibilities, and expenses of parenting.
- The basic child support obligation shall be calculated based on the combined income of both parents and shall be paid by them proportionately pursuant to Subsections K and L of this section.
- Physical custody adjustments shall be made as follows:
- for basic visitation situations, the basic child support obligation shall be calculated using the basic child support schedule, Worksheet A, and instructions contained in Subsection K of this section. The court may provide for a partial abatement of child support for visitations of one month or longer; and
- for shared responsibility arrangements, the basic child support obligation shall be calculated using the basic child support schedule, Worksheet B, and instructions contained in Subsection L of this section.
- In shared responsibility situations, each parent retains the percentage of the basic support obligation equal to the number of twenty-four-hour days of responsibility spent by each child with each respective parent divided by three hundred sixty-five.
- The cost of providing medical and dental insurance for the children of the parties and the net reasonable child-care costs incurred on behalf of these children due to employment or job search of either parent shall be paid by each parent in proportion to his income, in addition to the basic obligation.
- The child support may also include the payment of the following expenses not covered by the basic child support obligation:
- any extraordinary medical, dental, and counseling expenses incurred on behalf of the children of the parties. Such extraordinary expenses are uninsured expenses in excess of one hundred dollars ($100) per child per year;
- any extraordinary educational expenses for children of the parties; and
- transportation and communication expenses necessary for long-distance visitation or time-sharing.
- Whenever application of the child support guidelines set forth in this section requires a person to pay to another person more than forty percent of his gross income for a single child support obligation for current support, there shall be a presumption of a substantial hardship, justifying a deviation from the guidelines.