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How to Apply for Child Support

For parents going through a separation or divorce, child support is one of the key issues to resolve. Bringing up children is a huge responsibility and a large expense. In most cases, the New Mexico courts expect both parents to take their fair share of these responsibilities. Child support will not be awarded automatically. You need to apply for it and then a legally enforceable court order can be entered. This will require the one parent to pay regular support to assist with raising the child. The process of calculating support amounts, understanding what they do and don’t cover, and ensuring that you receive these payments can be a little complex. It helps to understand more about how to apply for child support in New Mexico.

What does child support cover?

Child support in New Mexico is intended to cover the basic needs associated with bringing up a child. These include:

  • Food, housing, and clothing costs
  • Costs of education (excluding tuition)
  • Cost of routine transportation

Other additional expenses may also be factored in, such as private school tuition, medical insurance, transportation costs associated with long-distance timeshare, and work-related childcare  depending on the specific needs of each child.

How do you apply for child support in New Mexico?

You may not receive any child support from the other parent without a court order – whether or not you are married. If you are pregnant when you separate, you should try to get the court order as soon as the baby is born. In certain circumstances, child support in New Mexico starts on the day you apply the court for  child support – and is not retroactive – so delaying the application could cost you. If you are legally separated or divorced with children from the relationship, a court order is also needed.  In New Mexico, The Department of Human Services handles the child support program through the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division (CESD). However, understand that they do not advocate on your behalf and will not represent you or the other parent.  To apply for child support services through the state, you will need to contact the New Mexico Child Support Agency Offices are located in Albuquerque, Roswell, Farmington, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and elsewhere and you can apply yourself or through your family or divorce lawyer.  Most parents choose to work with a lawyer, who will advocate on your behalf and help you prepare the necessary documentation and calculate what you can expect in terms of support payments. As well as helping you establish your child support order, your lawyer will know the legal steps required to enforce the order and recoup any missed payments if that later becomes necessary due to non-payment by the other parent. An experienced child support lawyer can also help you modify a child support order through the courts if that becomes necessary at a later date.

What documentation do you need to apply for child support services?

To submit an application for child support services, you will need to provide the following documentation to the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division:

  • A valid photo ID (e.g., a current New Mexico driver’s license)
  • Proof of residency (e.g., a rent receipt or utility bill)
  • Your child’s birth certificate 
  • The most recent address information for the other parent

If you are not sure of the present address of the other parent, the Federal Parent Locator Service can help you locate them, even if they now reside in another state. You should also prepare the following information, as you may be asked to show additional proof depending on your circumstances and your child support application:

  • Paternity test results (if you are not married)
  • Social Security Cards (for you and your children)
  • Wage information (pay stubs or w-2 forms)
  • Divorce records
  • Child support payment history

Obtaining a child support order may take some time. If your petition is approved, you are legally entitled to start collecting child support payments from the other parent. If you were not married to your child’s father when you separated and had your baby, you will need to contact the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) and first establish paternity before a child support order will be issued. Note also that the matter of child support is treated separately from child custody in the New Mexico court system. Just because the other parent is ordered to pay support, it does not automatically mean that visitation rights are awarded. 

How much does it cost to file for New Mexico Child support? 

You will be charged a fee of up to $25 to apply for child support through the New Mexico Department of Human Services. If you currently receive TANF or Medicaid, you will be exempt from paying this fee. The fees for hiring legal assistance are, of course, in addition to the filing fees.

Do you need help with claiming child support? 

There is no legal requirement to hire a lawyer to help you obtain child support but most high-quality divorce lawyers understand the best ways to navigate the legal processes involved. This can avoid delays and complications. And remember, CSED will assist you in applying for child support, but will not represent you in court or advocate on your behalf.  If you choose the New Mexico Legal Group, you will have the benefit of our years of experience and can expect insightful guidance from lawyers strongly committed to working in your best interests. Call us at 505.876.9175 or get started with a free case evaluation.