I want to learn about child support in New Mexico

How does a judge decide how much child support has to be paid?

At a child support hearing, a judge or hearing officer fills out a worksheet with information about:  (1) the amount of money both parents earn before taxes; (2) medical/dental insurance premiums that are paid for the child(ren); (3) work-related child care costs; (4) the number of children involved; and (5) how much time each child spends with each parent.  Once the information is entered on the worksheet, the judge or hearing officer follows objective guidelines that all courts in New Mexico use to determine how much child support each parent has to pay. 

You can get an estimate of what child support in your situation might be from HERE. Click on "Child Support Worksheet".

Before a court hearing to consider child support, many courts send both parents a list of financial documents that have to be brought with them to court.  It is important that all of the documents and any other listed information be brought to the hearing and told to the judge or commissioner.  Some of the documents that must be brought include current pay stubs and receipts for childcare and health insurance. Some medical bills might be entered on the worksheet.  If you aren’t sure, bring your documentation to court anyway and ask the judge.

IMPORTANT!!!!  Amounts paid for mortgages or rent, utilities, car payments, or credit card accounts will not be entered on the worksheet. 

Do I have to keep receipts for how child support is spent?

No.  Although child support payments should be used for the living expenses of the child, how the money is spent is up to the parent receiving the child support, and no receipts are required. 

If my child’s other parent doesn’t pay the amount of child support ordered by the court, does he/she still get to see our child?

Yes.  Child support and visitation are two separate issues and should not depend on each other.  If one parent doesn’t allow the other parent to visit with the child because child support hasn’t been paid, both parents have violated the court orders.  (The parent who will not let the child visit the other parent has violated the Parenting Plan or Visitation Order; the parent who does not pay child support has violated the Child Support Order.)

My child’s other parent keeps quitting his/her job to avoid paying child support.  Does he/she not have to pay anything?

Even if a parent is unemployed, a judge will often find out how much money he/she earned at his/her last job or the amount he/she is capable of earning (called imputed income) and enter that amount on the worksheet.  Even though he/she isn’t working, that parent would still be required to pay the amount of money he/she would be earning if working.  It is important to let the judge know what you believe is happening.  This type of situation makes collecting the money difficult, but not impossible.

My child’s other parent hasn’t paid child support as ordered by the court.  What can I do?

A “Motion to Enforce” or “Motion for Order to Show Cause” may be filed with the court.  Blank forms for both Motions are available at some District Courts.  Once the issue is brought before a judge, the judge will decide whether the order has been violated and what the consequences will be and could order that the non-paying parent spend time in jail. 

A Request for Wage Withholding may also be filed with the court if the other parent is employed.  This process is best set up by working with the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED). The way this works is that once a Wage Withholding Order is granted by the court, the employer of the parent owing child support is required to deduct a certain amount from that parent’s pay check each pay period.  The amount deducted is then sent to the receiving parent.  Once an order has been issued, it will stay in place regardless of whether the paying parent changes jobs.  CSED will automatically forward a Notice to Withhold to the new employer.

Also, working through CSED, a driver’s licenses may be denied or suspended if the person ordered to pay child support has failed to do so and state and federal tax refunds may be withheld if child support payments are not paid as ordered.

My child’s other parent and I were never married.  Does he/she still have to pay child support?

Yes.  But paternity has to be established first

When and how can a child support order be changed?

If both parents agree to the change, the agreement should be put in writing, signed, notarized, and filed with the court.  The agreement should state the new amount of child support, when the change will take effect and for how long.  It is usually best to follow the child support guidelines because the court may still deny the agreement that was reached by the parents if there is not a good reason that the guidelines were not followed.

If an agreement between the parents cannot be reached, a Motion to Modify Child Support can be filed with the court.  The same procedure as when the original Child Support Order was made will be followed, including providing the same documents to complete the worksheet.  A judge may modify the amount of child support to be paid “upon a showing of material and substantial changes in circumstances” which occurred after the court entered its last child support order.  For example, a change in the financial situation of one or both parents or a change in the amount of time a child spends with one parent may be considered a material and substantial change in circumstances.  A “material and substantial change in circumstances” is presumed if:  (1) there is a change upward or downward of more than 20% of the existing child support obligation after applying the child support guidelines, and (2) if the petition for modification is filed more than one year after the filing of the pre-existing Child Support Order. 


Disclaimer:  Law Access New Mexico (LANM) does not warrant the accuracy or usability of any publication or form.  The materials provide general information.  This information is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.  Law Access New Mexico grants permission for copying and distribution by the Access to Justice Network and to organizations for non-commercial purposes only.  Copyright Law Access New Mexico.

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