Child Support and Parent’s Rights in New Mexico

Important information on child support and parents’ rights in New Mexico

Although few aspects of a divorce go smoothly or agreeably, issues involving a couple’s children are often among the most divisive. Arrangements regarding child support are no exception, as it can be easy for each parent to feel like he or she got the worse side of the deal. This makes it important for parents who are divorcing or already separated in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, to understand their rights as parents as well as their means of dealing with child support issues.

Determining who pays child support can be complicated

According to the website of the New Mexico Human Services Department, paternity must be established before a parent can be ordered to pay child support. A father can voluntarily sign a document acknowledging paternity, or a court can order genetic testing for fathers who deny paternity.

A lawsuit settled earlier this year brought up the question of whether a parent whose rights have been terminated is still subject to parental responsibilities. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, a father whose parental rights were terminated in 1993 was later ordered to pay support for the period after the termination. The mother contended that the father’s responsibilities were not terminated along with his rights, but ultimately, the state Court of Appeals ruled that termination of parental rights ends the parent-child relationship and any parental obligations.

If paternity has been established and parental rights are intact, however, a parent will be held responsible for paying child support. It is important for both custodial and non-custodial parents to understand how support orders are determined, enforced and modified.

Many parents face support issues

When child support orders are determined, factors like the income of each parent, the liabilities of each parent and the needs of the child are weighed. Unfortunately, a change in financial circumstances or the refusal of one parent to cooperate can prevent a child from receiving needed support.

This is not an uncommon problem in New Mexico; the Albuquerque Journal reported earlier this year that the state’s Child Support Enforcement Division was offering a five-day amnesty period for payees to bring their child support payments current and have their bench warrants waived.

Prior to the amnesty period, more than 700 people were delinquent on child support.

When parents fail to pay support, there are various ways that the funds can be collected, according to the HSD website. These include:

  • Wage withholding.
  • Revocation of professional licenses.
  • Driver’s license revocation.
  • Arrest.

These means can be immeasurably helpful to custodial parents, but they can create issues for parents who fail to pay for lack of means rather than out of spite. This is why parents can request a modification of the child support order in court when they have legitimate reasons for struggling to pay.

There is no doubt that finding a child support arrangement that provides for the child and treats both parents fairly can be challenging. It is important for parents to consider seeking professional help and to always address any problems through legal channels.

Anyone who is separating or divorced and struggling with child support issues, whether as the recipient or the payer, should speak with an attorney about resolving the situation.

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