Custody & child support

“The substance of family law practice does not come from statutes and judicial decisions; it comes from the consideration of familial relationships that will continue long after a case is over.”

If you have children, it is vitally important to their well being (and your own) to recognize that divorce will not end your relationship with your former spouse.

Co-parenting of some sort is the norm in most New Mexico divorces and it is on-going. How you and your former spouse manage it will have a major impact on how well your children move through the divorce process and, without exaggeration, the rest of their lives.

Children should be an important factor in the form your divorce takes as well. Negotiated or Collaborative divorces are more conducive to developing working, cooperative parenting plans and to enabling a non-corrosive relationship with your former spouse. Both are vital to children’s well being.

While you and your lawyer (and your former spouse and his/hers) should be working to dissolve the marriage while minimizing emotional damage, the law and the courts deal primarily with only two issues concerning the children: custody and child support.

Under the law, custody has both legal and physical components.

  • Legal custody, which determines who will make the important decisions about a child’s life, is almost always shared. You and your former spouse will need to find a way to agree or compromise on schooling, religious affiliation, medical issues and other key items.
  • Physical custody and parenting time can vary substantially and depend on the relationship the child has with each parent, the ability of the parent to adequately provide for the child’s needs, the distance between the two households, the capacity of the parents to communicate and cooperate in the issues that arise in child rearing and whether a parent has been found to have committed domestic violence.

Child Support is considered separately from determination of either legal or physical custody.

New Mexico considers the ability of each parent to contribute to child rearing expenses and whether the living situation is considered joint (a child spends more than 35% of time with each parent) or visitation (a child spends less than 35% of time with one parent).