Helping People in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Child Custody/Child Support:

Custody is the charge and control of a child, including the right to make all major decisions such as education, religious upbringing, training, health and welfare. Custody usually refers to a combination of physical custody and legal custody. Many factors influence an award of custody and the way a case is presented in court can have a large impact on the result for you and your children. If you are awarded the children as a primary custodial parent, it has far reaching consequences both to you and to their well-being and development.

Child support is a periodic payment made to a custodial parent from a non-custodial parent to help compensate a child’s living expenses, i.e. food, clothes, etc., and any other related debts. When one parent is awarded sole custody, as in the event of a divorce, the non-custodial parent is required to fulfill his or her child support obligation by making set payments, whereas the custodial parent meets his or her support obligation through the custody itself. When parents are awarded joint custody in a divorce, however, the support obligation is shared and is based on a ratio of each parent’s income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

The obligation to support minor children cannot be waived by either parent and is a right enjoyed by the child, not the parent. Each state has guidelines that factor the amount of child support, such as the amount of time spent with the child, the income of both parents and the standard of living the child is accustomed to. ; The court may allow deductions for items such as catastrophic medical expenses and travel expenses for visitation.

Jurisdictional Issues:

When faced with a relocating custodial parent, the court will generally require that parent to give the other parent a minimum amount of notice prior to the anticipated move. This notice gives the non-custodial parent an opportunity to go to court and seek orders restraining the relocation of the child.

These so-called move away cases have gone back and forth on allowing and disallowing a move by the custodial parent with the minor children for over 20 years. While the best interests of the child have always been central to the decision, the uncertainty has made this area murky. Prior to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, when parents sought an advantage in a custody tug-of-war, they would move to a "friendly" jurisdiction (that is, a region with a history of rulings favorable to their position). However, after the UCCJA was adopted by all 50 states, family law courts were forced to defer jurisdiction to the home state, and this custody battle tactic lost favor.