One way to determine whether or not a modification of child support is warranted involves the annual exchange of income information provision contained within the New Mexico child support statute. This provision allows for either parent to make a yearly request, in writing, asking for documentation of financial information of the other parent.
The financial information specifically outlined by statute includes the disclosure of W-2 statements, IRS 1099 forms, state and federal tax returns with schedules, dependent medical insurance premiums, and work-related childcare statements. All of this information is required for the year prior to the request. It also requires the disclosure of the payroll and wage statements for the four months prior to the request. It should be noted that the wages of a subsequent spouse are allowed to be omitted from the information provided.
If there are additional documents needed that are not outlined by statute, a parent can access the Domestic Relations Rule regarding the disclosure of relevant information needed for child support modification and the Rules of Civil Procedure regarding discovery. If the other parent refuses to provide the information requested, the judge will then determine whether the information sought is appropriate for such purposes and enter a ruling either permitting or preventing the disclosure.
While the annual exchange of income information is a mandatory provision included in all child support orders, it is often included in a formal parenting plan developed to address the care and custody of children. Because of its mandatory nature, failure to provide the information requested can have serious legal consequences. When followed, it can reduce the possibilities of mistrust and animosity often associated with financial matters while avoiding unnecessary court hearings and the attorney fees that go with them.
Upon review of the exchanged information, if it becomes clear that the financial statistics reflect a 20% increase or decrease to the existing child support obligation, a modification is warranted. Either parent can then enter a Motion to Modify Child Support asking the court to modify child support based on the material and substantial changes in circumstances caused by the change in income.
Many times, the parties can work through this process on their own. Cooperation between the parties is always preferable to the alternative. This is particularly true in cases where the dollar amounts in dispute are low and the attorney fees can easily exceed these numbers. However, in some cases, due to conflict and the refusal of one of the parties to abide by the rules, it may be necessary to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.