When families split up, parties are often concerned about how they will continue to support themselves and their children. In New Mexico family law, there are three primary types of support awarded by the court: child support, spousal support, which is also called alimony, and interim support. The district court with which a divorce or parentage action is filed has the authority, or jurisdiction, to order one party to pay the other all three types of support.
The most commonly asked about form of support is child support, which is governed by the New Mexico Child Support Guidelines. The child support guidelines were created by statute to provide a clear calculation of child support that begins with both parents' gross monthly incomes and then gives credit to both parents for amounts paid for work-related child care and health insurance coverage for their children. In New Mexico, the child support guidelines are mandatory and must be followed unless a court finds good cause for deviation from the guidelines. It is quite simply a mathematical calculation. Of course, this will not stop arguments over the beginning basis of gross monthly income.
In contrast to child support, spousal support is not mandatory in New Mexico. The courts will look at a variety of factors in deciding whether or not to award spousal support, including the length of the parties' marriage, the relative earning capacity of each party and the parties' age and health.
In turn, interim support (interim division of income and expense) is different from both child support and spousal support because interim support is only effective from the date of the parties' separation until their divorce is finalized. It is calculated by adding all the income of the parties, subtracting all the allowable expenses, and dividing what's left over equally between the parties. This is often a hotly contested calculation.
By contrast to interim support which terminates upon finalization of the divorce, child support and spousal support are normally only effective once a divorce is finalized. Both interim support and spousal support are only available to parties who were married, whereas child support is imposed in any case in which parties share a child, whether or not they were married.
Calculation of any of these types of support can be complicated and will depend heavily on both parties providing accurate income information. Contacting a qualified family law attorney can help parties collect income information in order to ensure that any type of support is fairly imposed and enforced by the courts.