Too many lawyers simply take a lazy approach when it comes to child support. For purposes of this blog, we will approach this discussion from the perspective of the person who is seeking to reduce or minimize his/her child support obligation. Of course, the same reasoning can be applied to the other side as well.
Most lawyers will simply look at the child support guidelines and say “that is what you must pay.” While the law in New Mexico supports that approach because the statute says that the child support guidelines are presumptively in the best interests of the child, there is more to the inquiry. It’s important to deconstruct the issue that is in conflict.
First, what is the client’s goal/objective. It’s not enough to say “reduce child support.” That is obvious. However, what does that mean? Does it mean that the person wants to increase expenses to reduce support or decrease their income or just result in a bottom line decrease? There are multiple ways to “decrease” child support but not all of them make sense for everyone.
Once the goal is clearly defined the next step is to look at the guidelines. Come up with a range of possible factors. This is what we call our confidence index. The highest support someone could face v. the lowest support someone could get. In between these figures usually lies the final outcome. However, within a 90% probability we can predict that the final support outcome will fall within this confidence index.
Finally, the lawyer needs to focus on external matters that the law must consider. Is there a need to deviate from the guidelines? Are the guidelines even applicable to this situation? Are there other factors impacting on support? For example a $50,000 per year salary means something different to a single man who doesn’t have custody than to a man remarried in a blended family with 5 step children.
These factors are called the rational factors. What amounts to a rational determination of support. Lazy lawyering just looks at the guidelines and leaves it as the final step. That is why we use this basic approach to child support cases. It’s part of our DivorcEnomics™ approach to help families make rational decisions within the context of family law disputes. If you would like more information on child support matters contact us at info@JusticeLegalGroup.com or call us at 505-880-8737.