In New Mexico, the courts are required to address child support in any divorce involving minor children, or other determination of custody. The amount of child support is calculated based upon the income of the parents, specific child-related expenses, and the parents' custody arrangement using what are called child support worksheets. The payment of child support is mandatory and only in rare cases will a court deviate from the amount of child support due based on the child support worksheets.
Further, New Mexico law provides that child support payments should be made via wage withholding. The wage withholding order tells the employer of the parent ordered to pay support to take the child support payments directly out of the employee's paycheck as they would any other payroll deduction and to send the funds directly to the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED), or in some cases, directly to the parent receiving the child support.
The wage withholding order must state the amount of the child support payment as well as the length of time that support payments are to be made. The wage withholding order must also include the amount of any arrearage or back support due up until the day of the child support order along with the amount of any interest due on the arrearage. It is important to note that the maximum amount that may be withheld, along with any other wage garnishments, may not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the employee's income.
The court may make an exception to immediate wage withholding if it finds that there is good cause for not ordering immediate wage withholding or if the parents enter into a written agreement providing for an alternative way of satisfying the child support obligation.
Given that immediate wage withholding of child support payments is generally required under New Mexico law, the entry of a wage withholding order should not be viewed in a negative light by either the parents or the employer. In fact just the opposite is true. Wage withholding orders generally benefit both parents because it provides a means of tracking child support payments while ensuring that support payments are made promptly each month.
When a parent does not have regular employment, wage withholding may not be possible. Nonetheless, the parent ordered to make child support payment is still required to make the payments on time each month to either the receiving parent or to CSED. If the parent fails to make the payments CSED has many tools available to ensure that delinquent child support payments are collected, which includes everything from suspending the non-paying parent's driver's license to seizing their bank accounts and tax refunds.
Anyone looking at paying or receiving child support should discuss their rights and responsibilities with an experienced family law attorney, not only to ensure that the proper amount is being paid but to make sure that the payment is made in the most efficient way possible.