A Family problem can be a major Trauma. You need experienced counsel. The process starts with educating yourself regarding your options. Get as much advice as you can, before you chose a path, interview as many attorney as your patience allows. Interview as many friends, acquaintances, and professionals as you can, then decide. Here at the law firm we understand people and that you are facing a major crisis that needs personal attention. We have helped very many people through stressful times in their lives. The decisions you will make will affect the rest of your and your loved ones life.
Child Custody, Periods of Responsibility and Time-Sharing
New Mexico provides for joint legal custody in nearly all situations. Joint legal custody means both parents will be involved in the child(ren)’s lives.
Though there may be joint legal custody of a child, one parent may have physical custody most of the time. The parent who does not have primary physical custody will have “timesharing”, and will have”periods of responsibility” for the child(ren).
Non-payment of support is NOT, by itself, reason to deny timesharing with the other parent.
The same rules for custody and time-sharing apply whether or not the parents were married. The fact that the father is not shown on the birth certificate does not affect his rights (and also the obligations and duties) that the law gives to any father.
A parent is not entitled to custody because that parent is the mother or father. The standard the courts use to determine issues of custody are “best interests of the child(ren)”.
Child Support is, nearly always, resolved by doing a Child Support Worksheet.
The Worksheets are calculated based on a chart of child support adopted by the New Mexico Legislature. The Judge is required to follow the Worksheet and the Guidelines unless the Judge makes a specific, detailed determination that the guidelines should not be followed in a case, and explains in writing why the Guidelines are not applied.
The Worksheets and instructions for completing them are available for your use in calculating child support.
Property and Debt Division
New Mexico is a “no fault divorce” state. You do not receive more property or any better settlement by establishing that the other party mistreated you in some way. The judge will not listen to our stories of how you are the wronged party and you should not include that type of information in your written Response.
New Mexico is a Community Property state. That means that property you bought while married, or acquired though the efforts of one or both of you while married is “community property”.
“Separate property” is property that is not “community property”. It may be property that you owned before marriage or an inheritance.
There are lots of exceptions to these general statements about community and separate property. It is possible for property that started out as separate property to be changed into community property.
Generally in a divorce, the separate property goes to the person who owns it as separate property and the community property is divided in half, or somewhere along those lines. Separate property, though can be considered by the Judge in deciding on the amount of child support.
Debts are divided like property. Separate debts go to the person who incurred the debt; community debts are divided equally.
Sometimes one person takes more than 1/2 the debts. For instance, the person who has the vehicle usually agrees to make the vehilcle payments, though that debt is more than half the total amount of debts.
The agreement about who is responsible for the debts is just between the wife and the husband. The company or person that you owe money to as a community debt can collect it from either of you, not just the one the divorce papers say will pay.
Common Law Marriage
New Mexico does not permit a “common law marriage” to start in this state. Some states do permit common law marriages. If a man and woman lived together in another state so that under the laws of that state they are considered married, then New Mexico will recognize that marriage when they later move to New Mexico.
This is important because “community property rules apply only if there is a valid marriage.
With regard to children, though, it doesn’t matter if the mother and father are married. Decisions about custody, time-sharing or visitation and child support are made on the same basis without regard to the marriage or non-marriage of the parents of the child or children.