Family law is qualitatively different than many other areas of law because of the fundamental and intimate nature of the issues and the intense emotions often involved in New Mexico family law cases like divorces, paternity actions, modifications and enforcement actions. When unfamiliarity with the law is combined with intense emotions, parties to a marital dissolution or child custody case can easily say and do things that adversely impact the prospective outcome of their family law matter. A list of do’s and don’ts that can reduce the risk that you will undermine your position in a family law case.

Do try to work amicably with your spouse during a divorce.

The divorce process can be much more efficient and less expensive when parties act reasonably and amicably when seeking a resolution to their issues. This does not mean simply capitulating to what your spouse wants, but it does mean considering the advice of your divorce attorney in terms of positions that are unrealistic or potentially damaging. The only people that benefit in scorched earth divorces where the parties fight over the most minor points are the attorneys. While our New Mexico family law attorneys like paying clients, we are not interested in running up legal fees fighting battles that you have no chance of winning.

Do discuss paying child support with your child support lawyer as soon as you separate.

There are a number of reasons that your divorce lawyer may recommend paying some form of child support as soon as you are living apart from the other parent. The obligation of support will be made retroactive, so by paying as soon as you separate, you can reduce the arrearages that build up before a formal child support order is entered. The fact that you are voluntarily paying support will also demonstrate to the judge that you understand your financial responsibilities to provide for the care of your child when the judge is considering custody and visitation orders. However, your spouse has no obligation to account for the money received; so, you should pay by check or money order so that you can document what you have paid in child support.

Do file for modification of child support as soon as the circumstances justifying the change arise.

Many parents disparagingly referred to as so-called “dead beat dads” simply failed to file for a modification of child support in a timely manner. If you lose your job or your custody situation changes so that you have substantially more custodial time, you must file promptly to ensure that the child support order reflects these changes. There are people that owe tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in child support arrearages because they lost their jobs and never filed to modify their child support order.

The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experience legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.

We also invite you to review the subsequent installments of this blog post for further guidance about how to protect your interests in a family law matter. The New Mexico divorce law firm of Jay Goodman & Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your options. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights and options.


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