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New Mexico court rules in child support case

A New Mexico appellate court has ruled on a case involving child support. The ruling states that the child support ordered during a divorce decree or divorce mediation does not have to continue to be paid if a parent's parental rights are terminated. The three judges on the panel voted unanimously for the decision.

The case involved a Dona Ana County couple married in 1984 but divorced in 1990. At the time of the divorce, the father was ordered to pay $600 per month to support his two child. However, his parental rights were terminated in 1993 amid accusations of mental and physical abuse. In 2010, a judge ordered him to pay $117,502 in past-due support.

The father appealed that decision, arguing that the 1993 order made no mention of child support. The mother, on the other hand, argued that the order only dealt with the rights of the parent, not a parent's responsibility to support their children. The court of appeals agreed with father's argument because of the wording of a 1985 adoption law which removed reference to a parent's duties and obligations after parental rights are terminated.

The results of this case may have an impact on many families around New Mexico. Anyone currently having difficulty regarding child support should understand how the law can help resolve their situation. A person who can no longer afford to pay their child support may be able to have their payment adjusted. Those who aren't being paid child support they are owed may be able to taken legal action against a non payer. A family-law attorney may be able to assist parents who need a child support modification or with other child support issues.

Source: Alamogordo News, "NM court: Ending parent rights halts child support", July 31, 2013