In New Mexico the child support guidelines are used to determined ongoing child support obligations. However, those guidelines end at a combined gross monthly income of $30,000. While most people cannot even fathom that sort of income, there are families that do fall into this category. For those, the news can be unsettling. There is nothing in New Mexico law that defines whether the guidelines apply to incomes in excess of $30,000 per month. So, what do you do in a situation like this?
There are basically three schools of thought on this. The first is that the guidelines serve as a cap on the child support and therefore whatever the calculations are at the highest range that is the child support obligation. The second approach is that the guidelines don’t apply at all and instead the court should use “Spingola” factors. Spingola is a case from the 1980s that was decided before the use of any child support guidelines were even in the statute. There are about 10-11 factors under Spingola for the court to consider. This makes child support less of a mathematical calculation and more of a consideration of circumstances.
The third and final approach is basically a deviation argument. The argument goes that the court should consider economic factors that deviate from the guidelines to ensure that the child’s needs are taken care of. This approach is very similar to the Spingola approach but differs in that it recognizes the existence of the guidelines but argues that the guidelines require deviation. This requires the court to make specific findings that could help or hurt the parents, depending on the outcome. Accordingly, none of these approaches are clear and the New Mexico courts have no clear direction in how to handle the matter.