Macias-Mayo Law focuses on challenging family and entertainment New Mexico law
In family law, we handle complex divorces, custody disputes, adoptions, assisted reproduction cases and other family law issues in state, and often team with out-of-state divorce, family law, financial and reproductive professionals for multi-jurisdictional cases.
Macias-Mayo Law attorneys are experienced in handling GAL, Hague Convention and appellate cases and divorces in which deferred compensation, trusts, assets in art and antiques, stock options, business valuations, deliberate financial deceptions (including misappropriation of joint property) are involved.
Since 2022, we have also offered counsel, negotiation, and representation for music, copyright, and entertainment law.
Litigated divorce is what most people think of when they imagine a divorce proceeding. It is no longer the only way to divorce but there are circumstances when it is unavoidable and appropriate. At Macias-Mayo & Thomas, we are experienced litigators. We know New Mexico law inside and out, the courts, the lawyers we are likely to face from the other side, and how a specific judge tends to rule on any given issue. Importantly, we also know where to look for the potential ways out of a contentious legal battle and will do so whenever possible.
If you are facing a litigated divorce, we bring invaluable experience and a heartfelt desire to help our clients achieve the best outcome for their long-term financial and emotional well-being.
In Mediation, a Macias-Mayo & Thomas lawyer acts as a neutral third party to assist both sides to find a mutually agreeable solution, either directly or in working with each side’s lawyers. Mediators take an active role and, to be effective, knowledge about what a court might decide in a similar case is invaluable. An experienced mediator also knows what the cost and emotional expense might be in pursuing a case to conclusion through litigation and this information can be pivotal in reaching an out of court settlement.
Settlement Facilitation is different from Mediation in that the emphasis shifts towards the communication process between the disputing parties. The role of the facilitator is to design and manage communications that will enable a resolution.
Mediation and Settlement Facilitation are available for all types of family law disputes and can be used as a global approach to a divorce or to address specific issues such as asset and debt division, custody, child support or spousal support.
The idea behind Collaborative Divorce arose out of a desire for an alternative to the adversarial approach to divorce. It differs from mediation and settlement facilitation – both clients retain individual representation by a lawyer of their own. Thus, it avoids the potential power imbalances which may arise in a mediated divorce in which the mediator’s role is limited to helping the parties reach mutual agreement (which may or may not be objectively ‘fair’ to the less forceful party in the negotiation).
Collaborative Divorce doesn’t entail a trial in court, the lawyers and other professionals involved agree to withdraw from representation if the case must be litigated. In Collaborative Divorce, control of the process remains in the hands of the participants. Clients retain greater privacy, propriety, and usually end the process with their self-esteem fully intact. It can also reduce the trauma of contentious divorce on children.
Collaborative Divorce is typically less costly and less time consuming than litigated divorce.
Courts can have a difficult time with both non-traditional income and complex finances (see The Perils of Non-Salaried Income Support Awards).
Macias-Mayo & Thomas has extensive experience in handling the most complex divorces and custody disputes. We have extensive knowledge in international Hague Convention custody issues, appellate cases and divorces involving deferred compensation, trusts, assets in art and antiques, stock options, business valuations, deliberate financial deceptions (including misappropriation of joint property). In addition, we have developed the personnel and technological infrastructures to efficiently handle and, if required, transfer among participating professionals, the high volume of documentation associated with complex cases.
We can directly represent clients or act as a Special Master on cases. (see Special Masters).
One of the biggest hurdles facing divorcing couples is handling the issue of child custody, an emotional matter that can often complicate settlements and upset established agreements even in the most amiable cases.
The first decision is who will have decision-making responsibility for the child. In New Mexico, there is a strong presumption in favor of shared decision making, although that can be overridden when found to be in the best interest of the child.
The second factor is parenting time. Here again, New Mexico strongly favors awarding shared parenting time. While both parties may have parenting time, it may be unequal. The standard of review in determining a proper timesharing arrangement is the best interest of the child.
Child support is driven by a formula that uses variables including the amount of time the child spends with each parent, the gross monthly income of each parent and what extra expenses the parents have agreed upon. Each of these variables is subject to dispute. In addition, the law allows for deviations from the generally accepted guidelines. Counsel should be consulted prior to agreeing to child support.
A prenuptial agreement serves to modify some of the base terms established for a marriage to better suit one or both parties. A couple might desire a prenuptial agreement for any number of reasons, including a significant imbalance in financial assets, the presence of children from an earlier marriage, the possibility of a substantial inheritance or the ownership of an unincorporated business.
Postnuptial agreements are a formalization of a couple’s intentions as to how to handle their assets and/or liabilities. They vary considerably and are based on the situation of a particular couple. They can cover such issues as formalized financial planning, estate wishes or shielding one partner from a risky business venture of the other.
Cohabitation agreements formally outline the responsibilities of a non-married couple. Common law marriages are not legal in New Mexico but they are in neighboring states. A cohabitation agreement can preclude any “inference of marriage” developing from activities in those states.
‘Palimony’ is recognized by New Mexico, if a support arrangement has been reached (including certain oral agreements). Written cohabitation agreements can also preclude the inference of a palimony agreement.
ART includes all fertility treatments in which either eggs or embryos are handled. There are currently no federal laws regulating this industry and each state has its own statutes. In New Mexico, gestational surrogacy contracts are neither permitted nor prohibited and are consequently considered legal. Married, non-married and same sex couples can obtain pre-birth parenting orders with little difficulty. The process can be more challenging for single intended parents.
There are several agencies that work with egg doners, intended parents and surrogates within New Mexico. All stress the importance of having a crystal-clear contract for any ART procedure. Intended parents and surrogates must work with separate surrogacy attorneys.
Even before the 2022 Supreme Court decision on abortion, the industry had seen its share of controversy (see Is the US Still the Wild West of Surrogacy? and Frozen Embryos: the Law at a Crossroads) but that decision has created more legal uncertainty, particularly around reductions of multi-fetal pregnancies and how frozen embryos must be treated.
At Macias-Mayo & Thomas, we are committed to staying abreast of potential changes in the law that might impact our ART clients.
In New Mexico, adopting parents may be court-approved single or married persons. Adoption is also permitted by nonmarried couples, be they heterosexual, gay or lesbian.
If you are contemplating adopting a child, you probably already know that once the adoption process is completed, you will assume all the duties, rights, and obligations of parenthood. Those of the biological parents will be permanently terminated.
It’s a big step, and it can take time. Even a relatively straight forward adoption will involve determination of your fitness and your emotional, physical and financial suitability. There will usually be pre and post placement reports and home studies. If the child you are considering adopting is over ten years old, the courts will want to make sure he or she understands the consequences of adoption.
At Macias-Mayo & Thomas, our lawyers have handled adoptions including:
-simple adoptions in which a child’s parents are dead or have given the child up for adoption or have had their parental rights legally terminated
-stepparent adoptions. These require the non-custodial parent’s consent or the termination of that parent’s rights. The custodial parent and the stepparent must have been married for at least two years prior to beginning the adoption proceedings.
-interfamily or inter-tribal adoptions. When biological parents have consented or have had their parental rights terminated, grandparents, aunts, uncles or other relatives may opt to adopt a child. If the child is of Native descent there are additional procedures, including notification of the child’s pueblo or tribe.
Copyright law can be complicated to navigate. At Macias-Mayo & Thomas, we can help clients copyright their music, or deal with copyright infringement. Entertainment law specifically tailored for actors in the film and television industries can be challenging. We also assist musicians and actors develop their identities; we review contracts for performance and negotiate contracts as necessary.