Albuquerque Family Law Modifications

Life seldom stays the same for very long, financially, emotionally, or otherwise. Original orders, like child support orders, are based on a financial and emotional snapshot of the family’s circumstances at that time. When these circumstances change, the legal paperwork should change as well.

Many couples try to work these changes out between themselves and not get the lawyers involved. That approach is usually a good idea. But it’s a bad idea in this context. Child support is a good example. As far as the court is concerned, the child support obligation listed in the paperwork is the only one that matters. If an obligor falls behind for whatever reason, harsh consequences, including collections actions and wage garnishment, could follow.

So, if your family law orders are outdated, a New Mexico family law modification lawyer from Stratton Family Law should intervene. Once the judge changes the order, the new normal becomes legally enforceable. Frequently, modification matters are low-conflict matters. If the parties present an agreed motion to modify, most Bernalillo County judges will sign it without requiring a hearing.

FSO Modification

Family Support Orders usually include the aforementioned child support matters, as well as alimony matters. Division of debt and assets are almost impossible to modify, unless the moving party clearly shows that the other party somehow cheated during the original classification and division process. Financial or emotional changes could trigger legal modification.

Child Support

Financial child support changes are often very straightforward or extremely complex. There’s usually no middle ground.

Income increases or decreases are easily verifiable following an exchange of paystubs in many cases. Pay stubs are usually more reliable than tax documents. Frequently, obligors hide income by intentionally over-withholding.

A significant number of obligors either have no regular W-2 income or have substantial other income from other sources. Self-reported tax documents often aren’t reliable. So, a New Mexico family law modification lawyer must normally subpoena bank records and other documents to determine if an obligor’s income decreased claim is truly legitimate.

Especially since New Mexico is an income share state, emotional changes could alter child support obligations. The number of overnight visits is a factor in the child support guidelines. Additionally, when children graduate from high school or another life change happens, the child support obligation usually doesn’t automatically change.

Spousal Support

Somewhat similarly, financial and emotional situations change in this area. These changes could prompt alimony modification.

Usually, spousal support amount and duration determinations are based on the obligee’s need for support and the obligor’s ability to pay. Either, or both, these things could change almost every year. Many people change jobs about that frequently. Additionally, most people undergo annual salary reviews at work.

Emotionally, if an obligee remarries, or begins seriously dating, a judge could modify, or even terminate, alimony payments.

Child Custody Modification

As children grow, their emotions change. Many children feel closer to one parent than another at certain points in their lives. Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to at least evaluate child custody order for possible modification at least once every four years.

The changes could be major or minor. Move-away modifications are a good example. For an extremely short distance move, like from one city to a neighboring city, judicial approval might not be required. However, such a relocation could affect the pickup and drop-off schedule.

The change must also be permanent. If Junior gets mad at Mom and wants to move in with Dad, his father cannot rush to court and make an official change that must probably be undone when Junior cools off.

Above all, the requested change must be in the best interests of the child. Let’s go back to move-away modifications. Such relocations are almost always in the best interests of the parent. However, the judge will deny the motion unless the relocation is in the best interests of the child. Unless the new negihborhood’s schools are better or there’s another tangible benefit for the children, the moving party could be hard-pressed to prove this necessary point.

Procedural Matters

Post-filing mediation often resolves divorce and other family law cases. Pre-filing mediation may be a good idea in modification matters.

As mentioned, an agreed modification is often as simple as filing paperwork with the court. Legal fees in these situations are often nominal. Additionally, if the children see their parents work things out between themselves, that’s a good thing.

Mediation often involves some give and take. For example, Father might agree to a long-distance relocation if Mother agrees to bear most or all of the long-distance visitation costs.

When life changes, court orders should change as well. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Albuquerque, contact Stratton Family Law. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.