ELDER LAW means help with elderly family members, including Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Medicaid planning and other legal issues relating to the elderly.
FAMILY LAW is a general term used to encompass many aspects of family life. Divorce, child support, adoptions, guardianship and conservatorships are a few of the matters contained in family law.
We are currently NOT ACCEPTING divorce cases, but will be happy to refer you to attorneys who can help you.
New Mexico is a community property state which means that assets acquired during the marriage belong one-half to each party. The exceptions to this are gifts and inheritances which are separate property and belong to the person who received them. If you and your spouse signed a pre or post-nuptial agreement, this will govern which assets belong to which party, unless a court finds it to be unenforcable for some reason.
I BOUGHT A HOUSE BEFORE WE MARRIED AND PAID THE MORTGAGE OUT OF MY PAYCHECK. DO I GET THE HOUSE?
As stated above, New Mexico is a community property state. Both your paycheck and the payments made on the mortgage, are owned one-half by each party. However, whatever payments you made prior to the marriage (including any down payment) are your separate property and should be considered when deciding on property distribution.
I'VE BEEN A STAY-AT-HOME MOM CARING FOR OUR CHILDREN. AM I ENTITLED TO ALIMONY (also known as SPOUSAL SUPPORT)?
Child support and alimony are issues that will need to be addressed before the court. Alimony (also called spousal support) may be awarded in situation where there has been a long-term marriage, but there are many and various factors to be considered by the court when awarding spousal support. Spousal support is generally not awarded in marriages of less than ten years duration, where each party is capable of working and supporting himself or herself. WHAT ABOUT CUSTODY AND CHILD SUPPORT?
New Mexico is a no-fault state which means that each party is equally responsible for the divorce and the reason for the divorce will likely not have any consideration by the court in determining the custody arrangement. The parents will have an opportunity to attend mediation to try to agree to a shared custody plan. If mediation attempts are not successful, the court will determine custody. Unless there is some overwhelming reason why one parent should not have custody or contact with the children, the court will generally award the parties joint custody with one parent being the primary care parent and the other having set visitation with the children.
CHILD SUPPORT is a statutory formula, calculated based on the earnings of both parents, the number of children and the percentage of time the children spend with each parent. See detailed explanation of child support below.
WHAT ABOUT THE CREDIT CARDS AND DEBTS ACCUMULATED DURING THE MARRIAGE? WHO'S RESPONSIBLE TO PAY THOSE?
Again, New Mexico is a community property state which means that each party is responsible for one-half of the debts of the marriage. Even if one party held a credit card or loan that the other knew nothing about and never used, it may still be considered a community debt.
CHILD SUPPORT is a statutory formula, calculated based on the earnings of both parents, the number of children and the percentage of time the children spend with each parent.
I LOST MY JOB AND HAD TO TAKE A POSITION THAT PAYS A LOT LESS THAN I WAS MAKING. CAN I GET THE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS REVISED?
A change in circumstances such as an increase or decrease in pay can be brought before the court to determine if the change is sufficient to require a reduction or increase in the amount of child support paid. Either party may re-open the divorce for modification of the terms of the final decree, or if there is a change in circumstances which effects custody or child support.
Even if you are unemployed, the court will attribute some income to you and you will still be required to pay child support.
I HAVE BEEN PAYING MY COURT ORDERED CHILD SUPPORT, BUT THE OTHER PARENT WON'T LET ME VISIT THE CHILD(REN). CAN I STOP PAYING UNTIL I CAN SEE MY KIDS?
No. The child support payments are for the benefit of your child(ren). You should not deprive your child(ren) because the other parent is withholding visitation. Put the matter before the court and let the court decide the issue. If you take matters into your own hands and withhold court ordered child support, you could find yourself owing additional amounts or sitting in jail for disobedience of a court order.
I PAY CHILD SUPPORT FOR MY CHILD(REN). CAN I CLAIM THE CHILD(REN) ON MY INCOME TAXES?
If you have a court order, the matter of claiming the child(ren) for income tax purposes should have been included in the order. If you do not have a court order, then it should be decided between the parents as to who will claim the child(ren) for income tax purposes and remember to put whatever you have agreed on concerning child support, visitation, etc., in writing with one copy of the signed document for each parent. This could avoid "he said, she said" should one of you need to take the matter to court.