Beginners Guide to Understanding Child Support

Child support is governed by statute. This means that the court will take the evidence, plug in the figures and then order a child support obligation. However, there are many factors that impact on the awarding of child support under the statute. First is the determination of the proper worksheet. There are 3 options:

  1. Worksheet A. This is when a child lives in one house primarily and the noncustodial parent has the child less than 35% of the time.
  2. Worksheet B. This is when a child shares time between two houses. In theory both parents have over 35% of the time with the child. The more time a parent has impacts on a corresponding decrease in the amount of child support owed.
  3. A non-guideline support amount. This, currently, is governed by a case called Spingola. When the parents earn more than $30,0000 per month between themselves then the child support guidelines are not applicable and it’s more of a totality of the circumstances approach under the Spingola factors.

Once you determine the proper worksheet you next need to consider the factors that go into awarding child support. Those factors are as follows:

  1. Gross income. Child support is based on income before taxes. Income can be a very contested aspect of the support calculation. Proper determination of income is key to getting a fair support order.
  2. Insurance. This is the amount of insurance spent on the child(ren).
  3. Schooling. Does the child attend public or private schooling?
  4. Extracurricular expenses. Are there recurring expenses for the child (ie: ongoing medication for health concerns). This isn’t intended to be payment for a child’s cleats for football per season. That is what child support is supposed to be for. However, there isn’t a lot of consistency or direction from courts on this. We’ve seen this range from the yearly basketball expenses to nothing being included. This is a very important part of the calculation as it will truly impact on the amount of support awarded.
  5. Time sharing. As mentioned above the amount of time impacts on the amount of support ordered.

These are the basics of the child support worksheets found in NM Statute 40-4-11.1. Child support is complex and complicated and can cost someone thousands of dollars if done not properly. Talk to our child support attorneys to make sure your child support is calculated correctly.
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