New Mexico law requires both parents to financially support their child (or children). The amount of support that each parent pays depends on the parents' income, custody arrangement, and the number of children involved.
Parents can use the New Mexico Child Support Worksheet to estimate a support obligation. However, there are many factors that are taken into account when determining child support amounts in New Mexico—and it's ultimately up to a judge to decide the final amount of support.
Many child support orders are issued during the course of a divorce—when a divorcing couple has minor children, the law almost always requires the court to address issues of child custody and support. Often, courts issue a child support order at the same time they issue the divorce decree. So, if you're going through a divorce, you won't have to apply separately for child support because it will be decided as part of the divorce.
When the parents aren't married, though, they will have to apply for a child support order. Applications must be submitted to the New Mexico Human Services Department's Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED).
If there is a dispute about whether a parent is biologically related to the child, the parent seeking child support can try to establish paternity. Paternity will always have to be decided before a party can be held responsible for paying child support.
The New Mexico child support guidelines use complex formulas to establish a uniform fee schedule. Parents can agree to pay more than the amount given by the guidelines, but not less, and a court must approve the amount.
The first step in using the New Mexico child support guidelines is to calculate the adjusted gross income (AGI) of both parents. A parent's AGI is income from all sources, including:
There is some income that doesn't count as income for child support calculations, such as general assistance, public assistance benefits received by the child, and child support received by a parent for the support of other children. (N.M. Stat. 40-4-11.1 (2022).)
In situations where a parent is willfully unemployed or underemployed to avoid making child support payments, a court can impute an income equal to the parent's earning and employment potential. When a parent doesn't have a work history or recent employment, the court can impute the prevailing minimum wage in the area where the parent lives. (N.M. Stat. 40-4-11.1(D) (2022).)
Once the court has determined the parents' individual incomes, it uses them to calculate a base combined child support obligation. The court combines the parents' incomes to determine the total amount of support the parents are responsible for.
You can use the New Mexico Basic Child Support Schedule table (found in N.M. Stat. § 40-4-11.1(M)) to see what amount the court would assign based on your particular situation.
Each parent is responsible for a share of the basic child support obligation in proportion to their adjusted gross income. This is calculated by multiplying the combined child support obligation by each parent's percentage of combined adjusted gross income.
EXAMPLE: Pat makes $2,000 per month. Jordan makes $3,000 per month. Their combined gross monthly income is $5,000. So Pat's income makes up 40% ($2,000/$5,000) of the total, and Jordan's income makes up 60% ($3,000/$5,000). They have two children. Looking up their combined income of $5,000 on the child support obligation table, their base combined child support obligation is $1,221. Pat is responsible for 40% ($488.40) of the base monthly child support obligation. Jordan is responsible for 60% ($732.60).
New Mexico courts can adjust the parents' child support obligations if there are other monthly child-rearing expenses, such as medical expenses or childcare.
Under New Mexico law, each parent must pay the cost of providing medical (and dental) insurance for the child, as well as the cost of work-related childcare, in proportion to the parent's income. These amounts must be paid in addition to the basic obligation. (N.M. Stat. § 40-4-11.1(J) (2022).)
The child support order can also include a breakdown of each parent's responsibility for paying:
(N.M. Stat. § 40-4-11.1(K) (2022).)
The New Mexico child support guidelines adjust the amount of child support to account for the child custody arrangement. What matters for purposes of the calculations is the percentage of time the child spends in each parent's home. The guidelines accommodate the following situations:
The court uses the basic child support schedule combined with a worksheet to calculate the final child custody amount. There are two different worksheets for calculating child support based on custody:
You can use the New Mexico courts' child support worksheet calculator to run the calculations on your own.
Although a court presumes that the number given by the guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support, there are circumstances where the result would be "unjust or inappropriate," creating a substantial hardship for the obligor (the parent paying support), the obligee (the parent receiving the payments), or the child. In those cases, a court can deviate from the guidelines, but must give the reasons for the deviation in the written order. (N.M. Stat. § 40-4-11.2 (2022).)
There are two ways to modify a child support order in New Mexico: by motion to the court or through a request to the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED). Any modification recommended by CSED must be approved by a judge.
The court can approve a modification when a parent shows that there's been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the parties. Every child support order requires the parties to exchange financial information annually upon the written request of either parent, so if you suspect a material change in the other parent's situation, you can request the documents you need to evaluate your suspicions.
The court assumes that a change is material and substantial when:
(N.M. Stat. § 40-4-11.4 (2022).)
Either parent can also request a review by CSED of the support order once every three years. (N.M. Stat. § 40-4-11.5 (2022).)
Many child support orders will require child support to be withheld directly from the payor's paycheck and sent to CSED. In situations where the parent is unemployed or self-employed, they can make payments online through the New Mexico Child Support Online Portal.
Parents who are receiving child support payments can have CSED deposit them directly in their bank account or receive a pre-paid credit card. In some circumstances, CSED will send checks, but the use of checks is the exception and usually takes a lot longer.
New Mexico judges can order parents to pay support:
(N.M. Stat. §§ 32A-21-3, 40-4-7 (2022).)