New Mexico Family Law Attorney
When life fails to turn out the way you expected—as it often does—hiring an Albuquerque family lawyer may not be your first thought. Unfortunately, legal issues involving loved ones are often the most difficult to resolve, leaving you emotionally battered and in need of a solid advocate in your corner. When you realize that you need legal help, don’t you want an experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate lawyer to assist you in reaching an equitable agreement while fully defending your rights? The decisions you make now will have a daily impact on you, your spouse, and your children. Because of the complexities and emotions involved in negotiating family law issues, it is imperative that you have the full weight of the Mulcahy Law Firm behind you. Our practice areas include:
- Divorce- If you have reached the point where divorce is inevitable, you likely have many questions, including the question of how long your divorce will take. Because every divorce is unique, there are no easy answers to your questions—unless you and your spouse are in absolute agreement about every single issue. Unfortunately, total agreement during a divorce is the exception, rather than the rule. The Mulcahy Law Firm has a broad background in all aspects of divorce and family law, along with the necessary knowledge of New Mexico divorce laws. With an unsurpassed reputation, The Mulcahy Law Firm will always go the extra mile to ensure your rights are completely protected and to help you come through your divorce as unscathed as possible. Some divorce issues include:
- Property Division – All debts and assets acquired during a marriage are “community property” that must be divided in a divorce. This includes everything from houses, cars, and investments, to credit card debt, mortgages, other loans, and retirement benefits. While you must reach an “equitable” settlement, that does not always mean exactly equal if there is good reason to divide things a certain way. Agreeing how to divide property with your spouse, rather than relying on the judge to decide for you, is likely to give you a better outcome.
- Child Custody – If you and your spouse have one or more children who are under the age of 18 or is still in high school, a child custody order must be made as part of your divorce. This means deciding both physical custody (also known as “timesharing”) and legal custody (how are decisions made for the child such as school, religion, and medical care).
- Child Support – Minor children from the marriage also mean an order for child support will be made in your divorce. Child support is ordered according to a formula in our statutes, although incomes may be increased or decreased on the worksheet under the right circumstances. Child support must be paid until a child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever occurs last.
- Alimony/Spousal Support—Alimony, also known as spousal support, can be a difficult issue for couples. While child support amounts are determined through a formula which takes many things into consideration, spousal support is generally left up to a judge. Although there are certain factors the judge will consider when determining spousal support, in the end, the amount and length of New Mexico spousal support is a rather subjective issue, left to the discretion of the judge. Because of this, when couples can work out a fair spousal support agreement on their own, they might be happier with the results.
- Uncontested Divorce—The true uncontested divorce is relatively uncommon. Even couples who start out with an uncontested divorce—meaning they are in total agreement regarding every aspect of the divorce—can later find that disagreements regarding asset division, spousal support and child custody can crop up. The couple who is able to maintain an uncontested divorce will find themselves with a divorce which is over much more quickly and probably with fewer hard feelings when the divorce is final.
- Legal Separation—A New Mexico legal separation has many of the same issues to consider as a divorce, although until a couple actually file for and complete a divorce, they are still legally married and unable to remarry. There are many reasons for a legal separation, including religious reasons or healthcare reasons. During a legal separation, a judge will issue orders regarding property division, spousal support, child custody, visitation, and child support just as in a divorce. A legal separation can be transferred into a divorce at any time in the process.
- Mediation (Settlement Facilitation)—Mediation has become more popular as a tool to facilitate family law cases to negotiate an agreement which all parties find acceptable. Mediation is often ordered in divorces, but can also be used in any family law case (kinship guardianship, parentage, custody only, etc.). Mediation does not take place in a courtroom or in front of a judge. A third party, known as a mediator or settlement facilitator, is appointed. This person is a trained professional who has experience in remaining neutral during tense divorce negotiations. Unlike your divorce attorney, the mediator’s job is not to decide who is right and who is wrong, nor is it to make decisions for the parties. The goal is to encourage an agreement between the spouses and keep parties out of the courtroom. There are two types of mediation that can occur. The parties can choose to mediate directly, without attorneys present, and come to an agreement face-to-face. More often, the court will order the parties to attend “Settlement Facilitation,” a more formal type of mediation with attorneys present.
- Child Custody—Child Custody occurs both in divorce and in parentage cases. As many parents are well aware, the determination of child custody can bring on some contentious behaviors from one or both parents. Judges make decisions about child custody based on the best interests of the child, although different states have different rules and guidelines as to what factors a judge will consider when deciding on those best interests. Examples of those factors include:
- The emotional, social, moral, and educational needs of the child;
- The home environments offered by each party;
- The interpersonal relationship between the child and each parent;
- The preference of the child, if the child is old and mature enough to give his/her preference;
- The mental stability of each parent (including any mental illness or drug use);
- Any history of domestic violence; and
- The safety of the child
- Child Support—Many parents are under the mistaken belief that child support and child visitation rights are tied to one another. In fact, even when the supporting parent does not pay child support, the other parent does not have the right to deny visitation, and a parent denied visitation does not have the right to discontinue child support. Child support amounts are determined in New Mexico through a specific formula, and the state expects both parents to financially support their children. When child support issues arise, it can be helpful to contact a knowledgeable New Mexico child support attorney. Incomes listed on the worksheet can be flexible, and increase or decrease depending on the circumstances and the right legal argument.
- Parentage–Although some mothers might choose to simply walk away from a man who voices no interest in being a father, the fact is that every child deserves the benefits which come with having a legal father. If the parents were not married when the child was born, then legal paternity must be established. Getting the father listed on the birth certificate is a start in the right direction, but more is required to legally establish parentage. Establishing paternity clearly identifies the father of a child, giving rights and benefits to the child as well as to the mother and father. Besides the potential emotional benefits and security from a legally established father, some of the other benefits the child may receive the following establishment of paternity include: crucial information regarding family medical history, child support, health or life insurance from the father, Social Security benefits, veteran or other military benefits, and the right to inherit.
- Grandparent Visitation— While custody battles during a divorce are relatively commonplace, one often-forgotten group who also have a very high stake in the custody outcome are the loving grandparents. Many times, depending on the resolution of a divorce, and the custody mandates, grandparents are at risk to be cut out of the lives of their grandchildren. This trend is almost doubly offensive due to the fact that so many families now rely heavily on grandparents for help with childcare as well as financial help, yet once parents split the grandparents have few rights in maintaining contact with their grandchildren. An experienced Albuquerque family law attorney can help grandparents maintain contact with their grandchildren, so long as they meet all the legal requirements.
- Kinship Guardianship—Under the Kinship Guardianship Act, the standard for obtaining a guardianship involves a two-part inquiry. The first part involves establishing that either: both parents, if alive, have consented to the guardianship, the parental rights of the parents have been legally terminated, or the minor child (but not the child’s parents) lived with the party seeking guardianship for the ninety days prior to the guardianship filing. Second, the party seeking guardianship must establish the parent or parents with legal custody of the child are unable or unwilling to provide care and supervision for the child—essentially showing a lack of parental fitness, due to abandonment, chronic neglect, physical abuse or substance abuse. Kinship Guardianship orders are not permanent – once in place, a parent can ask for the guardianship to be revoked if the Court finds that it is in the best interest of the child to do so. Guardianship orders can include orders for visitation for the parents, and order the parents to pay the guardian’s child support. However, it is common for both of these things to be suspended (i.e. no child support ordered, and visitation at the discretion of the guardians).
- Adoption— In most cases, adoption may be one of the more upbeat parts of a family law practice. Adoption is a legal manner of adding a child to your family. A successful adoption can be both complex and time-consuming, requiring a skilled New Mexico adoption attorney to carefully guide prospective parents through the state’s adoption laws. The state of New Mexico recognizes a wide range of relationships created by adoption, and your Albuquerque adoption attorney can help you navigate complexities.
- Guardianship & Conservatorship—There are many situations in which a guardian or conservator could be required. In some cases, a parent may have designated a guardian for minor children in his or her will, while in others, a minor or an incapacitated adult may have demonstrated the need for a guardian and/or conservator. A guardian helps the protected individual secure safe housing and medical attention, while a conservator handles the finances of the protected individual. In some instances, an adult may feel a loved one is being taken advantage of, therefore may file with the court to become a guardian, conservator, or both, or to have someone else appointed on the loved one’s behalf.
- Family Law in the Military— Should you file for a New Mexico divorce, you can expect unique issues to arise if you are in the military. State and federal laws and rules will apply in a New Mexico military divorce, and it can be extremely beneficial for you to speak to an attorney from the Mulcahy Law Firm to comb through these issues. In a military divorce, the couple may be from one state, married in another, living in a third and own property in a fourth state. As if these are not enough complications, the couple may have recently moved to New Mexico, therefore may not have been in the state long enough to establish residency. Child custody can also become more complicated when considering future deployments, temporary or permanent. Military retirement falls under a very specific category of retirements and are subject to different rules than more standard retirements such as a 401k or IRA.
- Enforcement and Modification of Family Law Orders— Once your judge enters a legal ruling in your divorce, it is not necessarily the end of the story. Perhaps the judge ordered one party to pay spousal support, to pay child support, to split assets in a certain manner, or to pay monthly payments on a debt. Unfortunately, not everyone complies with a judge’s orders. Because of this, New Mexico law allows the judge who entered the order to retain jurisdiction over all parties involved in the ruling. In fact, your New Mexico judge has the ability to make several orders to “enforce” a party’s obligations, including orders for a monetary judgment, garnish wages, liens on property or suspend a professional license or a driver’s license. If the other party in your divorce is failing to comply with orders handed down by the judge, it may be time to speak with an attorney from the Mulcahy Law Firm.
For all your family law needs, contact a highly experienced Albuquerque family law office—the Mulcahy Law Firm. Whether you need a divorce attorney, a child custody attorney, an adoption attorney or a guardianship attorney, we can help! Contact us.