When parents separate, they do not shed their responsibilities to their children—and that includes their financial responsibilities. Child support is intended to ensure that every child gets the financial benefits of two parents, even when parents no longer share the same household.
Child support is often a highly contested issue in divorce and custody cases. Sometimes, it takes a fight to get a fair amount of child support on paper and another fight to collect child support payments. The family law attorneys at Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC in Albuquerque provide the legal services and resources you need to make sure your child gets the financial benefits provided under New Mexico family law.
One reason that child support is often highly contested is because one parent views child support as financial punishment. But it is not.
Child support reflects the financial obligations of both parents. These obligations may not be equal, especially if time spent with the child is unequal (i.e. if one parent has sole physical custody). The payment of child support from one parent to the other is to make sure that the custodial parent has the financial resources needed to provide the child with a lifestyle similar to what they would have had if their parents stayed together.
New Mexico uses two worksheets to calculate child support.
Worksheet A is for “Basic Visitation”—used when one parent has sole physical custody and is, thus, responsible for nearly all of the child’s care and basic necessities.Worksheet B is for “Shared Responsibility”—used when parents share joint custody and child-related costs are more equitably divided.
Both worksheets calculate child support using the following information:
Child support amounts are not arbitrary. Supporting worksheets must accompany divorce or child custody documentation before a judge will sign off on the amount. If parties agree to an amount different than that generated by the worksheet, a judge will want to know why and make sure the agreed-upon amount does not short-change the child who is supposed to benefit from the payment.
Child support payments are supposed to be sent regularly by the noncustodial parent (or the joint custodial parent who bears the larger child support obligation). Unfortunately, it is very common for parents to fall behind or stop paying child support altogether. When this happens, the parent owed child support will have to take legal action to get back child support payments.
Fortunately, both federal and state governments now take child support enforcement seriously and provide the means to garnish wages. New Mexico has also established guidelines for imposing fines and jail time in an effort to deter parents from skipping out on their child support obligations.
An experienced family law attorney can help you understand the process to enforce a child support order.
If you need assistance coming to an agreement on child support or enforcing child support payments, contact us. The Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC family law team has the experience and persistence you need to ensure your child’s financial interests are being taken care of.