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Divorce / Custody / Family Law
We have years of experience in the area of family law: divorce, custody, child support and adoption. We have handled extraordinarily complicated divorces, working with couples in uncontested divorces to fill out all of their own paperwork properly.
Divorce is a lot like filling out your taxes. It can be very complicated, and it is never as easy as it looks on TV. New Mexico is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that the only reason to get a divorce, and the only reason the Judge will listen to, is “incompatibility of the parties.” This is done to lessen the drama and stress, not only on the parties, but on the children as well.
We are always bound by law to look out for the best interest of the children. Normally, the court will order “joint legal custody”, with joint and equal decision-making authority in the areas of residence, religion, education, health care, extra-curricular activities and discipline. Physical custody is “where do the children live?” That question is usually a combination of factors, including the ages of the children, where each parent lives, and the wishes of the children (depending on their ages). We will discuss all of this during our initial consultation.
UNCONTESTED DIVORCE WITH NO CHILDREN FROM $2495.00, PLUS COURT FEES AND COSTS.
Pro-Se Assistance costs even less.
Child support is based primarily on four factors: how much each party makes, the amount of time with each parent, how much either party pays for the children’s medical insurance and how much each party pays for the children’s work related day care expenses. We can work with you to keep you from getting into trouble with Child Support Enforcement, or to get you back on track if you have gotten into trouble with them already.
We bill for family law cases on an hourly basis, so we will give you an estimate of the amount which we think it will take to complete your matter. Our consultation fee for family law matters is $150, which is deducted from your retainer when you hire us.
Nothing is more stressful nor more contested in divorce proceedings or custody cases than custody. A lot of the conflict comes from a lack of knowledge by the parents. There are two types of custody in New Mexico:
First, is “Legal Custody” this means “decision-making” authority. New Mexico law presumes that there should be two parents making decisions for the minor child(ren). This is known as “joint legal custody”. This means that each parent should have joint and equal decision making authority in the area(s) of residence, religion, education, non-emergency medical decisions, extra-curricular activities and discipline. Both parents are allowed access to all school functions, church, extra-curricular activities and doctor visits.
Second is “Physical Custody”: this is where the children live. Normally, school age children that have both parents in the same geographical area will normally be a “shared physical custody” arrangement. The court will look at such factors as the work schedules of the parents, the living arrangements and stability of the parents and the desires of the child. This becomes more important from the age of about 7 to the age of 14. At age 14, the Court will ask the child what living arrangement they want. Very young children, under the age of about 3, normally spend most of their time with their mother, with dad having short, frequent visits, expanding to overnight visits into shared physical custody as the child ages.
All of this will be taken into account by the Courts. If there is an unusual amount of conflict between the parents, the Court may order the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem, an attorney who the Court appoints to investigate and make a recommendation as to what they believe is in the “best interest of the child(ren)”. The parents are normally ordered to split the cost of a guardian ad litem.
The Court may also find it necessary to order a parenting coordinator. This is a person that will act as a go-between when the parents simply cannot communicate with each other.
Finally, where the parties are having trouble communicating, we always recommend, and the Court normally orders that the parents use www.ourfamilywizard.com. This is an online parenting coordination tool which records all visitation schedules, all communications between the parents, and any medical appointments or school functions. If necessary, the attorneys or the judge can look into your account via a portal to see if either party is creating the conflict in the matter.
If a parent has a severe substance abuse problem, emotional problems, instability in home or work, has abandoned the child or has a serious criminal history, the Court may elect to order sole legal custody with the other parent. This is rare, and the courts are hesitant to do this. Also, when the parties long distances apart, the Court will normally order that the child live with one parent during the majority of the school year, and the other parent during summer breaks. All spring and winter breaks are normally spent with the “non-custodial” parent.
All of this is fact-specific to each case. Call us today for a consultation so that we can discuss the specifics of your case.