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Law Office of Jay R. Mueller  - Focusing on Custody, Child Support, Divorce, and DWI Defense
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Divorce vs. Legal Separation
Tips for Non-Custodial Parents and Infant Visitation
Five Tips to Help Your Divorce Lawyer Effectively Represent You
Father Doesn't Have to Pay Child Support after Terminating His Parental Rights
Top Ten Divorce, Custody, Child Support Myths

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Tips for Non-Custodial Parents and Infant Visitation

Tips for Non-Custodial Parents and Infant Visitation
 
Almost all parents want as much time with their children as possible. Many times, potential clients approach me wanting overnight visits with their very young children. I remind people that under the law, Courts seek to determine what's in the best interests of the child. Judge's look to psychologists and clinicians to help them determine the best custody arrangements. The age of the child is fundamentally important. Courts are very aware of children's attachment and nurturing needs.

Father Doesn't Have to Pay Child Support after Terminating His Parental Rights

 
This Newsflash comes directly from the Albuquerque Journal. The link is below. This is an important news story as it changes a major understanding of the law.
 
Court: Father doesn’t have to pay child support
 
Scott Sandlin / Journal Staff Writer
 
His parental rights were terminated in 1990 Doña Ana caseA man whose parental rights were terminated after allegations of mental and physical abuse does not have to pay more than $117,000 in court-ordered child support for his two children, the state Court of Appeals has ruled.Judge Michael Bustamante, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, concluded termination of parental rights severs the parent-child relationship completely – including the support obligation.The ruling came in the case of a Doña Ana County couple who married in 1984 and divorced in 1990. The father was ordered to pay $600 a month in child support payments for the couple’s two children.Three years later, the mother sought to terminate her ex-husband’s parental rights based on allegations of mental and physical abuse. The father didn’t show up for the hearing, and the district judge noted that the children had “witnessed horrific violence and mayhem to those they love.”The judge also noted the father had kidnapped the children and taken them to Texas for 10 months in 1990 without letting them have any contact with the mother during that period.The District Court said the children would not be damaged if they never had contact with the father again and granted the termination request. The November 1993 termination order made no mention of child support.The mother applied for aid from the state Human Services Department. HSD collected some $7,620 from the father and the mother continued to press for unpaid child support.In 2010, District Judge Michael Murphy of Las Cruces ordered the father to pay $117,502 in past due child support plus interest, for a 14-year period from 1994 through September 2010.The father appealed and the Appeals Court reversed Murphy’s order, noting that the state statute dealing with termination of parental rights was far from clear.The mother argued the law dealt with the rights of the parent, not a parent’s duties toward a child, so a child’s “inherent right to support from the parent persists” even after parental rights are ended.The father argued that if the Legislature had intended a continuing duty of child support, it would have explicitly said so.The Appeals Court said that revisions to adoption law, made part of the Children’s Code in significant 1985 revisions, removed reference to a parent’s “duties and obligations” post-termination.“The question is whether the changes in language … reveal a legislative intent to continue support obligations after termination of parental rights. We conclude that they do not,” the Appeals Court said.“Such a significant change,” it said, “would seemingly require definitive action by the Legislature.”Bustamante’s opinion says termination of rights is meant to end the connection forever.“The Legislature had no intent to change the fundamental nature and effect of an order terminating rights when it amended the Children’s Code in 1985,” the ruling said. “The fundamental and terrible act of severing the parent-child relationship cuts off all connection between them except as specifically excepted by the Legislature.”The court said its analysis looked at historical changes in laws “that reflect an evolution of attitudes toward the parent-child relationship and the problems posed by abused, neglected and delinquent children.”Judges Cynthia Fry and Michael E. Vigil joined in the opinion, which reverses the lower court.

Top Ten Divorce, Custody, Child Support Myths

 
Ten Divorce, Custody, and Child Support Myths
 
1.It is OK to deny visitation if the other parent does not pay child support.
 
False. This situation comes up when the noncustodial parent falls behind in paying child support, and the custodial parent decides that the delinquency justifies shutting the other parent out of the children's lives. In the eyes oft he Court, child support and child visitation are separate issues. Child support is not payment for the privilege of visitation.

Termination of Parental Rights Part II

 
Termination is involuntary—the Courts take awaysomeone’s parental rights despite that person’s objection. However the reasoning the Courts use is very similar. You can see how the distinction disintegrates in reality. This is because whether termination o r relinquishment, the Courts look for only two circumstances whereupon parental rights can be divested: abuse and neglect cases and private adoption.
 
The first instance is typically handled by the Department of Child Youth and Families.

Termination of Parental Rights Part 1

 
How does one terminate or relinquish parental rights in New Mexico? This is a challenging question because in New Mexico, often times Courts are reluctant to relinquish or terminate parental rights.
 
Parental rights are considered fundamental rights. The following is written from the perspective of a mother seeking to terminate an absentee biological father's parental rights. I'm often asked this very question.
 
There is a presumption that a child needs his or her parents as well as the financial security of two parents and only in rare circumstances will parental rights be totally abolished.

Happy Thanksgiving

Even in tough times, we all are called to take a few moments and inventory our lives. Despite whatever challenges we are facing, all of us have at least something to be thankful for. 

Have a Happy and drama-free Thanksgiving Weekend!

Relocation: Risk Assessment

Here's a great article from the Atlanta Bar Association. People might find it interesting. While this information is firstly based on Georgia law and secondly it's offered herein for general educational purposes, New Mexico follows similar guidelines as suggested in this article. You're invited to ask your attorney for specific details.

Relocation: Risk Assessment Howard Drutman, Ph.D. & Marsha Schechtman, LCSW(The Family Lawyer, Atlanta Bar Association, July 2011)

One of the most difficult areas of child custody litigation is the dreaded

The Importance of an Expert

Recently a client asked me how to convince the Court to allow them to move out of state and take their kids with them. We talked about the nature of the proposed move and the fact that the other parent would likely oppose the move. Our Courts really do not like kids to move out of New Mexico even if the moving custodial parent has good solid reasons for the move. If you are the custodial parent and wish to relocate and take your children with you, and the other parent is uncooperative, you will need the Court's permission. An evidentiary hearing will likely be held and you will need an expert. The expert is a licensed psychologist who focuses on custody evaluations. One key thing I stressed to my client was the importance of an expert witness in terms of convincing the powers that be to grant your petition.Often times parents do not wish to pay for an expert thinking it to be an extravagance. However this hearing is often times the only shot at the Court seriously entertaining your request. The same idea was expressed throughout a recent two-day educational institute I attended on custody issues. I'm not trying to refer people to an expert, but simply to help you understand their importance. 

What Financial Information Am I Required to Disclose in Child Support and Divorce Cases?

What Financial Information Am I Required to Disclose in Child Support Cases and Divorce Cases?

New Mexico law provides that in Family Law cases such as Divorce and Child Support matters, certain highly detailed financial information must be disclosed. Before beginning the legal process, there are a number of documents that you should try to obtain. These documents are used for the purposes of determining interim division of income and expenses, spousal support, and child support.   
 1.

What is the Second Judicial District Court Clinic?

What is the Second Judicial District Court Clinic?
The Second Judicial District Court Clinic is a service provided by the Court for parties when they are unable to agree on timesharing (custody). Parties are referred to the Clinic by order of a District Judge (Family Court). The Clinic is staffed by professional counselors and therapists who investigate the case and make recommendations. Often times the Court will adopt these recommendations after a hearing. 

The Court Clinic offers three basic services: mediation, advisory consultations, and finally priority consultations.
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