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Establishing Parentage, Custody, or Child Support
A Parentage case (also known as a Paternity case) is a legal action filed by an unmarried mother or unmarried father to establish who is the legal father of a child(ren) and to define their legal responsibilities toward the child(ren).
In order to get child support or a custody and visitation order, unmarried parents must first establish paternity. This is done by filing a Petition to Establish Parentage, Determine Custody and Time-Sharing and Assess Child Support.
The statutes that give the court “jurisdiction” (authority to do something) in cases where parents of children were not married are 40-11A-101 to 40-11A-903 NMSA 1978. The District Court of New Mexico has jurisdiction to determine custody if the child is less than six (6) months old and was born in New Mexico or, if older than six months, the child has lived in New Mexico for at least the past six months.
New Mexico law assumes that “joint custody is best for children. Joint custody means that both parents make legal decisions (ie. school, doctor, dentist, activities in which the child participates), spend time with the children and are involved with them. Joint custody DOES NOT necessarily mean equal time, where the children spend half their time with one parent and half their time with the other. Equal time-sharing is possible in joint custody, but other arrangements are possible as well. The judge may not order 50-50 custody unless a counselor or psychologist recommends such an arrangement.
If you feel that joint custody will not work, or if you need help in determining time-sharing (visitation) arrangement or schedule, then you should ask the court for a referral to mediation or Court Clinic. There are separate forms for you to prepare to get into the mediation or Court Clinic services. It may be done automatically by the judge in some cases.
When the time-sharing (visitation) schedule with the child(ren) is know, then the amount of child support can be determined, based on the Child Support Guidelines which are part of the New Mexico Statutes. The Guidelines and the Worksheets are part of the materials available so that the child support amount can be calculated. The Child Support Worksheet is required to be attached to the final papers when the Decree and other final documents are submitted to the judge for approval.
Child Support Enforcement Division
The New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) can assist with collecting child support on behalf of New Mexico’s children. CSED can help establish paternity, child support obligations, collect child support, and enforce child support court orders. CSED does not assist with custody or visitation matters.
For more information on child support, click here.
For more information on child custody, click here.
For forms to Establish Parentage, Custody or Child Support, click here.
For the Child Support Guidelines, click here.
For information on Court Clinic, click here.
To complete a Child Support Worksheet, click here.
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