When two parents get a divorce, the most important questions to be decided involve the children. Most of these questions, such as where the children will live, and how often the other parent is able to see them, can be worked out between the parents themselves. The one question that is not left largely up to the parents to decide is the question of child support.
Child support is a sum of money paid to the parent having primary custody of a minor child. It is ordered in virtually every divorce case involving minor children. Paying support is part of a parent’s obligation to support their children.
The amount of child support that will be paid is decided according to guidelines set out in state law. Parents cannot agree on a lower figure, or make an agreement that support may be paid by buying things like food or clothing. The guidelines are followed unless there is a good reason for the court to order a higher or lower amount (For example, if a child has special medical needs, the courts may order a parent to pay more support).
The child support guidelines base the amount of support on the combined incomes of both parents, and the number of children they have. The percentage of income a parent contributes to the total is used to figure his or her “basic support obligation.” In addition to the basic support obligation, child support includes the premium for medical and dental insurance for each child, and also includes the cost of job-related child care. If there are extraordinary expenses, such as uninsured medical, dental, or counseling expenses over $100, those will be added to the support obligation.
The calculations become even more complex when the parents have a “shared responsibility arrangement.” A shared responsibility arrangement means that a child, in effect, has a home with each parent. The amount of support that a parent will pay takes into account how much time the children spend with each parent, with the shift in obligations occurring after 130 days.
The calculations can be confusing, especially for a person who does not work with them on a regular basis. Fortunately, We provide an easy to use calculator to determine Child Support, which is available when you start your divorce online and complete the online questionnaire. The calculator asks you to enter both parent’s incomes, medical and dental insurance premiums, and any extraordinary expenses. The amount that must be paid in supported is calculated automatically. (The New Mexico Child Support Calculator available from us is also made available for free outside of the process for completing your divorce or custody case online. Click-here for more information.)
Child support must be paid until the child either turns 18, or turns 19 while still enrolled in high school. The support obligation will also end if the child marries, joins the Armed Forces, or dies. If a child has a disability that makes it impossible to be self-supporting, the obligation to pay support may continue indefinitely. Unless the parents agree otherwise, there is no duty to pay for college or other post-secondary education.
It is important for both parents to remember that child support cannot be used as a weapon against the other parent. If visitation is denied, a parent may not withhold support as a way of retaliating. There are other ways to work through that kind of dispute.
New Mexico Child Support Calculator
We have made available online – at no cost to you – a New Mexico Child Support Calculator. You may use this calculator to determine the anticipated child support for your situation. To access, click-on the ‘Register and Begin’ button.
This post is also available in: Spanish