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My Blog

What Do Judges Look at When Making Child Custody Decisions?


In my fifteen years of experience, I have found that courts (not always to be sure) try to make child custody decisions based on what is in the child’s best interest; simple as that.

Typically, the judge weighs a number of various interrelated factors. While the factors vary from state-to-state, they may generally include:
  • The strength of each parent-child relationship. This is called "bonding". Sometimes a judge will hear evidence about the parent-child bond through a therapist's testimony;

The Judge Just Ordered Us to Hire an Advisory Consultant. What the Heck is That?

If your custody case is OUTSIDE of Bernalillo County, chances are, at some point someone will mention an Advisory Consultant. In Bernalillo County, oftentimes families/parties are referred to the Court Clinic. The Court Clinic plays an integral part in custody decisions in many cases. However what happens when you don't live in Albuquerque?

If your case is in Valencia County, Sandoval County, or Cibola County you don't have access to a court clinic to help determine custody arrangements. Instead when parties reach an impasse they may be ordered to meet with an "Advisory Consultant".

Do You Need a Lawyer for Your Child Custody Case?

One question people ask me is whether they need an attorney to represent them in their child custody and/or family law matter. Short answer...Nope! You do not need a lawyer to represent you.

In the United States and New Mexico specifically, you do not need a lawyer to represent you. You have a right to represent yourself in court. You can go to court, file pleadings, and argue your case. Many people do. I know this because they hire me to fix the mess.

Truth be told, many people have represented themselves in court and some folks have done pretty well for themselves.

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody


What is the difference between joint and sole custody?

Custody is a legal term and refers to whom, whether parent(s) guardian, state, or otherwise, has the legal ability to make decisions on behalf of the child(ren). Custody is not exactly the same as where the kids live. The details of where the kids will spend their time, which schools they will attend, which churches if any they will attend, extracurricular activities etc. are governed by the parenting plan. Generally speaking, custody can be divided into two broad categories: joint custody and sole custody.

Where do Child Custody and Child Support Law Come From?


Where do Child Custody and Child Support Laws Come From?

People ask all the time, where do child custody and child support laws come from? Are the laws in each state completely different? Are these laws even constitutional? Let’s find out.

Family law in the United States comes from several sources. Primarily, family law is a state affair and much of the laws governing child custody and child support are state statutory law. These laws are found in each states’ codified statutes and/or codes. In New Mexico, we have Chapter 40 of the New Mexico Statutes Annotated 1978.

What to Do If the Other Parent Isn't Paying Their Child Support Obligation


What to Do If the Other Parent Isn’t Paying Their Child Support Obligation

First, Get It in Writing!

In all fifty states, child support obligations are created by court orders. You probably got your child support order as part of a divorce or previous child custody/child support case. Even if you didn’t go to court in person—which can happen in cases where the parties reached an out of court stipulated agreement, there should still be something in writing. That’s your starting point. Even if you’d rather resolve the issue out of court, a court order gives you something to legally enforce.

How to Modify Child Support


Most people would agree that parents should be financially responsible for their children at least to the best of their abilities. Child support amounts can be modified if situations warrant. In most jurisdictions and New Mexico is no exception, child support can be modified whenever there is a change in circumstances. The parent alleging the change in circumstances has the burden of proving that there has been a "significant change in circumstances."

In New Mexico, anytime there is a significant change in custody, you should have an attached child support worksheet.

How to Guarantee that You Won't be the Custodial Parent


How to Guarantee that You Won’t be the Custodial Parent

Before you read any further, I realize what I’m about to present is plain common sense. I’m not trying to insult your intelligence but you would be utterly surprised at the number of times intelligent people do rather dumb things when it comes to their personal lives and especially when a court hearing is on the calendar. So I am going to take a different approach because some folks benefit more from hearing what they shouldn’t do rather than what they should do.

Who Gets to Claim the Kids for Taxes?


Who Gets to Claim the Kids for Taxes?

The issue comes up often. Who gets to claim the kids for tax purposes? It’s an important question because the answer equals big money. There are many tax benefits with respect to claiming a qualified child as a dependent. For the calendar year of 2015, claiming one’s child as a dependent reduces one’s taxable income by approximately $4,000. Another possible tax benefit is the Child Tax Credit, which is worth up to $1,000 for each child under the age of 17; bear in mind there aree certain eligibility requirements that are based on the parent’s adjusted gross income.

12 "Secrets" to Getting the Custody Arrangement You Want


Twelve “Secrets” to Getting the Custody Arrangement You Want

 

As a child custody attorney in New Mexico, I’ve heard it all. “Dad is always at least 20 minutes late picking up the kids.” Or “My ex won’t let me have any say in what happens to our girls.” Or, “I want 50-50 custody because it’s not fair that she should have the kids all the time.”

If a lawyer tells you that they can solve these problems instantly, run. The truth is, if you want 50-50 custody, or if you have a difficult ex who refuses to cooperate, there are powerful steps you can take to break past the impasse.
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