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How is Child Support Calculated in New Mexico?

New Mexico has pre-established child support guidelines that help the courts determine the required amount of child support to be paid in each case. The New Mexico courts follow these guidelines pretty strictly.  Very seldom will the courts deviate.

Child Support Worksheet Generally Mandatory in New Mexico Child Custody/Support

A child support worksheet, which is a mandatory and frequently non-negotiable document that most judges require during divorce proceedings, should be utilized.  It is an important tool that can be used to calculate the financial responsibility of each parent towards the welfare of their child or children. A family attorney can help prepare you for an appearance in court regarding support plans.

The worksheet that is used (worksheet A or worksheet B) depends upon the time-sharing.  Worksheet A is used when one party has the child 65% or more of the time.  Worksheet B is used in all other cases.  The worksheets reflect the amount of time the child is with each parent and the corresponding costs associated with caring for the child.

Child Support Based Upon Income of Parties

The most important element of the child support calculation is the income for the parties.  This is the predominant item in the worksheet.  The calculation is based upon the gross income of each party.  This seems simple enough but can become complicated in many cases where parties try to hide income.

The worksheets are premised upon the parties’ ability to pay.  This means both parties ability to earn income is the measure.  This means that if one or the other party cannot stop working or otherwise refuses to work in an effort to gain some advantage in the child support calculation, the courts will impute income based upon earnings history and/or earnings capacity.

Other Important Items in Child Support Worksheet

Other than income, there are two other very important items in the calculation of child support.

First, the worksheet considers medical expenses.  This typically means premiums.  However, regular co-pays or other out of pocket expenses may be considered.  The medical expenses will also include dental and eye care.

These items can get pretty contentious due to the fact that they are based upon necessary medical, dental and eye care and more importantly the expenses associated with these items.

The other item is child care and can be extremely expensive.  Lack of child care can keep the custodial parent out of the workplace.  The child care factor is based upon reasonable and necessary child care.  As one might imagine, this issue can get pretty contentious as well.

Most other items will not be allowed.  The worksheets are set for the allowable expenses to be included.  With a few exceptions, the courts will strictly follow the worksheet.

Courts Typically Looks only to Worksheet Items for Calculation of Child Support

In deciding an award of child support, the court will generally look only to the guidelines.  Many times there are special circumstances that one or the other parties would like to be considered.  This might include extracurricular activities, travel, private school, clothing and so on.  However, the Courts in New Mexico, by law, are constrained by the child support worksheets.

In other words, if it is not in the worksheet, then it is typically not a factor in child support.  Again, child support is basically based upon income, medical expenses and child care.   Obviously, the most important of these is income since as they say you cannot get blood out of a turnip.  The same applies to parents that simply do not have funds for these other items.

Child Support Calculations Can Get Complicated and Combative

It is generally best to have an experienced child support attorney at your side.  In theory, child support is pretty straightforward.  You simply plug items into the worksheet.  The complexity comes with what gets plugged in.  This can be particularly difficult when one of the parties fails to cooperate in providing the necessary information for the worksheet calculation.

The Albuquerque attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. can help.  Give us a call at (505) 242-5958.

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