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Modification of Child Support

Once a child support order has been entered by a New Mexico court, modifications can be requested in light of significant changes in life circumstances.  Typically, the change will involve an loss of income by one parent.  On occasion, a modification may be sought when one of the parent‘s has a substantial increase in income.

Loss of Income Must Not be Voluntary

In the case of lost income, the change in circumstances must be beyond the control of a parent such as an involuntary loss of employment.   This might result from a layoff or termination.  It might and far too often also results from illness.   The courts will closely consider these types of changes.

However, the courts are not sympathetic to voluntary reductions of income especially when one party decides to quit a job or to take a lower paying job for no particular reason.  Self fulfillment is not in most judges eyes a good reason for modification of child support.

Changes in Worksheet Expenses May Serve as Basis for Modification

Changes in expenses on the New Mexico child support worksheet may also constitute a sufficient change in circumstances to justify a modification.  These expenses relate to education, child care, health insurance and medical expenses related to the children.

These costs will be considered but the courts will not be sympathetic to hardships resulting from unnecessary expenses.  Nor will the court want to hear arguments about the fairness or reasonableness of the expenses if they are expenses that must be included in the worksheet.  Finally, unless there is a loss of income, the court will not hear that the expenses have become too burdensome.

There Must be a “Substantial Change” for a Modification

To request a modification, there must be a “substantial” change.  Small changes typically do not warrant the time and cost of seeking a modification.  Consequently, the New Mexico child support statute requires a showing of a material and substantial event.

Under this standard, it is necessary to show that the change in income will result in an increase or decrease in child support of more than 20%.  If a parent is not sure if they fall within the 20% change requirement, this can be determined by using an interactive child support worksheet available at the New Mexico Courts website, under the Family Law Forms section.

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