The care and support of children is often a major issue in the event of a relationship breakdown in New Mexico. Child custody and child support are common areas of disagreement, but they can often be resolved through collaboration, mediation, or arbitration.
Many parents wonder how long they are required to pay child support. Does it automatically end when a child reaches 18 or 19, or does it continue until the child is no longer dependent on their parents? To avoid misunderstandings and potential disputes with your ex-spouse and/or child, it is important to understand your rights and obligations as a payor or recipient of child support.
Child support emancipation
When a court orders a parent to pay child support, the amount is typically determined using the Income Shares Model, which takes into account the gross income of both parents. However, this obligation is not necessarily limited to a certain age. In New Mexico, we use the term “emancipation” to describe when a child is no longer in need of child support and has become self-sufficient.
In most cases, child support ends at age 18. However, emancipation is not automatic. There are three main ways in which a child can be legally emancipated in New Mexico: through a court order, upon reaching 18 and graduating from high school, or upon reaching 19 if they have not graduated from high school. Child support may also end in other circumstances, such as if the child joins the military, passes away, gets married, becomes able to support themselves, or is removed from disability status by a court order.
If you want to end your obligation to pay child support, you cannot simply stop paying it. You must request that child support be terminated upon the child’s emancipation. Some child support orders may include language about when child support ends, but this may not necessarily be the case in all circumstances. If you are unsure about whether your obligation to pay child support has ended, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney at Justice Legal Group.
Can child support be enforced until it ends?
If a parent fails to follow a child support order in New Mexico, the court can enforce the order by imposing various penalties, such as wage garnishment, seizure of property, or fines. These measures can be taken until the child support obligation ends or until the parent comes into compliance with the order.
Child support beyond the age of majority
In some cases, the obligation to pay child support may continue beyond the age of majority. This is most commonly the case when a child is enrolled in post-secondary education or has special needs.
If a child has a disability or special needs that make it impossible for them to become self-sufficient, child support may continue indefinitely. These are considered exceptional cases where the child’s disability is viewed as economic hardship. In these cases, the New Mexico court can enforce arrangements for support beyond the age of majority if necessary.
If you have questions about child support in New Mexico, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney at Justice Legal Group. We can help you understand your rights and obligations and advise you on the best course of action for your particular situation. Call us at 505-880-8737.