Who Must Pay Child Support in New Mexico?
Both parents are required to support their children in New Mexico. Typically a custodial parent where a child lives most of the time will receive support from a non-custodial parent. However, support is ultimately decided by New Mexico’s Child Support Guidelines and what is in the child’s best interest.
How is Child Support Determined in New Mexico?
The Child Support Enforcement Division of the New Mexico Human Services Department uses Child Support Guidelines and Worksheets to calculate support. Every stipulation of child support that deviates from the guideline amount shall contain a statement of the reasons for the deviation. The New Mexico child support guidelines and worksheets are presumed correct.
How much money one parent pays the other depends on whether Worksheet A or B is used.
Choosing the worksheet depends on how much time the children spend with each parent. Most families use Worksheet A, which means the children primarily live with one parent (the “primary custodial parent”) and spend alternating weekends, alternating holidays, and some vacation time with the other parent (“non-primary custodial parent”).
Worksheet B is used when a child spends 35-50% of the calendar year with the non-primary custodial parent. In that system of shared responsibility, the parents maintain two households for the children and share responsibility for all aspects of the cost of raising the children. Worksheet B takes these things into account.
Before a hearing to consider child support, many courts send both parents a list of financial documents to bring to court. Some of these include current pay stubs and childcare and health insurance receipts. When in doubt, bring documentation and let the judge decide.
At a child support hearing, a judge or hearing officer fills out a worksheet that includes information about:
- the amount of money both parents earn before taxes
- medical/dental insurance premiums that are paid for the child(ren)
- work-related child care costs
- the number of children involved
- how much time each child spends with each parent.
Once the information is entered on the worksheet, the judge follows objective guidelines that all courts in New Mexico use to determine how much child support each parent has to pay.
What about cooperation between states, tribes, and countries?
Interstate/Inter-jurisdictional enforcement can be more challenging when the parent obligated to pay child support lives in one jurisdiction, and the child and custodial parent live in another.
However, all state and tribal child support agencies are required to pursue child support enforcement, including location, paternity establishment, and establishment of a child support obligation, as vigorously for children who live outside their borders as for those under their jurisdiction.
A federal mandate required all states to enact the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), to improve interstate child support enforcement. Tribes have not been required to enact UIFSA to receive federal funding for child support programs, as states have been required to do. However, courts of all United States territories, states, and tribes must give full faith and credit to a child support order issued by another state or tribe that had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter.
UIFSA includes a provision designed to ensure that, when more than one state is involved, only one valid child support order can be enforced for current support. The law also includes a provision that income withholding can be initiated in one state and sent directly to an employer in another without involving the child support agency in that state.
All state child support agencies have an office called the Central Registry to receive incoming interstate child support cases, ensure that the information given is complete, send cases to the correct local office, and respond to inquiries from out-of-jurisdiction child support offices.
Standard forms make it easier for state and tribal caseworkers to find the information they need to enforce a case and to be sure they are supplying enough information for another jurisdiction to enforce their case.
Read More: How to File for Divorce in New Mexico
Which Agency Handles Child Support in New Mexico?
The Human Services Department, Child Support Enforcement Division handles child support issues in New Mexico.
You can contact the agency in writing at the address below or by email at Child.Support@state.nm.us.
Child Support Enforcement Division
P.O. Box 2348
Santa Fe, NM 87504
You can also call the Consolidated Customer Service Center at 1-800-283-4465.
Another way to reach CSED is by creating an account at the New Mexico Child Support Online Portal.
Several field offices provide child support services around the state. You can find the local office closest to you by going here.
If you have questions about payments, contact the Quick Payment phone number at 1-800-283-4465.
You can mail payments to:
State Disbursement Unit
Child Support Enforcement Division
PO Box 25109
Albuquerque, NM 87125
Be sure to include your New Mexico CSED case number with your mailed payments.
How Do I Ask for Child Support?
You can apply for full services or limited services (wage withholding assistance) in New Mexico.
You can apply for full services in Spanish by going here.
Use this form to apply for Wage Withholding Only (also known as Pass-Through Services).
If you select this option, CSED will issue an Electronic Notice to Withhold Income to any known employer that accepts electronic income withholding orders (eIWOs) of the non-custodial parent. CSED will account for all payments received, apply them to the appropriate case, and distribute them to the custodial parent. To use this service, you must have an existing court order that allows income withholding.
For those employers who do not accept eIWOs, it is the responsibility of the parties to establish income withholding. There is a $25 annual processing fee associated with this option. However, CSED will not pursue enforcement mechanisms such as liens, tax refund intercepts, or civil contempt.
Factors that May Impact Child Support in New Mexico
Whenever the application of the New Mexico child support guidelines requires a person to pay another person more than 40% of the actual gross income of the paying parent, the courts presume a substantial hardship that justifies a deviation from the child support guidelines.
What if a parent is voluntarily underemployed to avoid paying support?
If a court finds that a parent has willfully failed to obtain or maintain appropriate employment or is underemployed, the court may impute an income equal to that parent’s earning and employment potential. Courts use criteria that include the parent’s employment history, availability of job opportunities, income history, job skills, education, history of incarceration, age, and health.
If a child’s parent doesn’t pay the amount of child support ordered by the court, do they still have legal rights to see the child?
Yes. Child support and visitation are separate issues and should not depend on each other. If one parent doesn’t allow the other parent to visit with the child because child support hasn’t been paid, both parents have violated the court orders and could face legal consequences.
What happens when the non-custodial parent lives in another state?
Parents should still apply for services with CSED. Because of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), the New Mexico CSED can refer a case for legal action in another state.
UIFSA also makes possible interstate wage withholding and allows for the arrest of a non-custodial parent who flees to another state to avoid paying child support.
Read More: Divorce Laws in New Mexico
Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
Per New Mexico laws, the cost of providing medical and dental insurance for the children and the net reasonable child-care costs incurred on behalf of these children due to employment or job search of either parent shall be paid by each parent in proportion to that parent’s income, in addition to the basic obligation.
A support order may also include a monthly child support payment for:
- Any extraordinary medical, dental, and counseling expenses incurred on behalf of the parties children. Such extraordinary expenses are uninsured expenses above $100 per child per year and may include braces, ongoing medical conditions, etc.
- Any extraordinary educational expenses for children of the parties
- Transportation and communication expenses necessary for long-distance visitation or time sharing.
If a custodial parent has access to better health care coverage, the support order may include that coverage instead and increase the noncustodial parent’s obligation to offset the cost.
The court will pick the best policy at the lowest cost when both parents can provide insurance.
Establishing Paternity in New Mexico
It is essential to establish paternity for several reasons:
- Financial Support: New Mexico law requires both parents to support the child. Establishing paternity enables the child to receive financial support from both parents.
- Medical Support: Establishing paternity enables the child to be added to either parent’s insurance.
- Benefits: Establishing paternity enables a child to receive a father’s benefits, including Social Security benefits, inheritance, veteran’s benefits, and other potential benefits.
- Rights: Fathers and mothers have the same rights when paternity is established.
Child support orders can’t be ordered until paternity has been established. When parents are married, it is presumed the husband is the father. Only the mother has legal rights until paternity is established when the parents are not married.
A parent can open a paternity case before the child is born. However, paternity cannot be established until after the child is born.
Paternity can be established by filing an affidavit with the New Mexico Department of Health. That is enough to establish paternity for purposes of state law, even if the parents aren’t married.
Signing the Acknowledgment of Paternity Statement (AOP) means establishing the parent-child relationship. This AOP is signed under penalty of perjury by the mother and the man seeking to establish paternity.
Paternity can be determined by administrative procedures which use genetic testing on cells gathered by swabbing the inside of the cheek of the man, mother, and child. A few jurisdictions may need blood samples. Genetic test results indicate a probability of paternity and can establish a legal presumption of paternity. These tests can also exclude a man who is not the biological father. DNA genetic tests are over 99 percent reliable for providing evidence of paternity.
Enforcing New Mexico Child Support Orders
When a parent does not pay their court-ordered amount of child support, the other parent can pursue several possible enforcement actions.
A Motion to Enforce or Motion for Order to Show Cause may be filed with the court. Blank forms for both of these are available at some District Courts.
A judge will review the motion and decide whether the order has been violated and the consequences. CSED can also take action, including:
- Wage garnishment. After the court grants a Wage Withholding Order, the parent’s employer owing child support must deduct a certain amount from that parent’s paycheck each pay period.
- Send a letter to the non-custodial parent informing them payments have not been received.
- Suspend a driver’s license
- Suspend a professional, hunting, fishing, or other types of licenses
- Intercept federal and state tax refunds
- Place a lien on financial accounts or property
- Restrict the issuance of a passport
If these remedies don’t produce results, CSED can request the court to issue a bench warrant which may result in fines and jail time.
Modifying New Mexico Child Support Payments
When circumstances change a modification for child support, the change must be substantial, such as if there is a significant change in income for either parent, a change in expenses for the child, or changes in custody or visitation schedules.
The changes must result in a 20% increase or decrease in the child support obligation for a modification to be warranted.
To request a modification, contact your caseworker to file a Motion to Modify Child Support. You will provide the following to start your request:
- A completed financial affidavit
- Wage and payroll statements
- Federal and state tax returns
- Documentation from your employer regarding changes in your employment status
- Proof of other income and expenses
- Health insurance premiums
- Child care expenses
- Documentation of illness or disability for you or your child
- Documentation of a change in custody or visitation
Submitting a modification request does not guarantee it will be granted. A judge will need to review any request and ensure it is warranted and in the child’s best interests.
Parents can also agree to the change, which should be put in writing, signed, notarized, and filed with the court. It is usually best to follow the child support guidelines because the court may still deny the agreement reached by the parents if there is no good reason that the child support guidelines were not followed.
Child Support and Taxes
Child support payments are not deductible by the payer or taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.
However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as one who provides more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.
Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. The parents can alternate years claiming a child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a similar statement.
When Does Child Support End in New Mexico?
Child support ends when the child is legally emancipated, either by court order or when the child reaches 18, or up to age 19 and until graduation from high school, whichever occurs first.
Child support also ends if the child joins the military, dies, or marries.
If the child has a disability that makes it impossible to become self-sufficient, then child support can continue indefinitely. But, if the parents spell out their agreement to share college expenses in the custody and child support agreement, a court will enforce that agreement.