In New Mexico, child custody and child support issues often become the main points of contention in divorces. If separating couples cannot come to an agreement about the custody of their children, the court will have to decide these issues for them.
Child custody and child support are treated as separate but related matters by the courts. While custody decisions can affect support decisions, they are just one of several factors taken into consideration when establishing or modifying child support.
Physical custody refers to where the child lives and who has the primary responsibility for their care. Legal custody refers to who makes the major decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, religion, and medical treatment. In New Mexico, the courts generally prefer for both parents to have regular, consistent contact with their children, unless there are strong reasons why this would not be in the child’s best interests, such as substance abuse or living too far away. The default assumption is that it is in the child’s best interests for both parents to have joint legal custody, as the child benefits from the input of both parents in making important decisions. However, if there is a history of abuse or other undesirable behavior by one parent, the other parent may be awarded sole legal custody if it is deemed to be in the child’s best interests.
Even with joint custody arrangements, one parent may still be required to pay child support to the other. Child support payments in New Mexico are based on the statutory Child Support Guidelines, which consider the respective incomes of both parents, the physical custody arrangement, and other expenses such as insurance, work-related daycare, and other costs. The main factor in determining support is the income of both parents, as support is meant to ensure that the child’s needs are met regardless of who has custody.
If you are going through a divorce and have children, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced child custody and child support attorney. At Justice Legal Group, we can help you navigate the complex legal issues involved and protect your rights as a parent. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 505-880-8737.