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New Mexico child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this New Mexico child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is New Mexico child support determined?

In New Mexico, child support may be ordered to be paid by either or both parents, depending on the financial resources of the parents.

There are official New Mexico Child Support guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to help determine the correct amount of child support. There are separate worksheets for determining the correct amount of child support to be paid by parents with visitation and parents with shared responsibility.

These state child support guidelines will be followed, unless both parents agree to an amount other than that calculated by the guidelines, or the courts decide the guidelines are unjust due to specific circumstances of the case, including:

  • any extraordinary uninsured medical, dental or counseling expenses for the child
  • any extraordinary educational expenses for the child
  • any transportation expenses or communication expenses for the child’s long distance visitation or time sharing with the other parent
  • a substantial hardship for either parent or the child

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, or is removed from disability status by a court order.

New Mexico's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about parenting and custody. If there is no agreement, then the courts will make these decisions.

In New Mexico, joint or sole custody may be awarded, based on the best interests of the child and without any preference given to the sex of the parents. In New Mexico, it is presumed that joint custody is best for the child, unless it is shown otherwise. The factors the courts consider in all custody cases include:

  • the wishes of the child and the wishes of the parents
  • the relationship the child has with each significant family member
  • the child’s adjustment to home, school and community settings
  • the physical and mental health of all involved

When specifically considering joint custody, the courts also look at:

  • the ability of the parents to cooperate and make joint decisions
  • the distance between the parent’s residences
  • whether joint custody will promote a more frequent and continuing relationship between the child and each parent
  • the love, affection and emotional ties between the child and the parents
  • the ability of each parent to provide food, clothing, medical care and material needs for the child and how well they manage these tasks
  • whether each parent is willing to accept all the responsibilities of parenting and the flexibility to share custody responsibilities
  • whether each parent can allow the other to provide childcare without intruding
  • whether the parenting plan submitted by the couple is suitable for an award of joint custody

New Mexico's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. Usually, if a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent’s employment, they are required to cover their child on it.

How permanent are the provisions for New Mexico child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Most states, including New Mexico, have a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

How does joint custody work?

Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan.

In New Mexico, joint custody or shared responsibility is defined as each parent having the child in their home at least 35% of the time during the year. More generally, it is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Often one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How New Mexico determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. In joint custody cases, each parent has the child in their home at least 35% of the time per year. However, when parents cannot agree to exactly when visitation will occur, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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