New Mexico New Mexico

Child Custody Law

Child Custody General Information - What Is Child Custody?

Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.

Child custody cases in New Mexico can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:

  • Where the child lives (physical custody)
  • Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
  • How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged

This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the New Mexico court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.

New Mexico Child Custody Law Summary

After a breakup or divorce in New Mexico, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.

Some of the factors considered by New Mexico in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence. New Mexico considers joint custody orders to be in the best interests of the child where possible.

In determining joint custody order, the court shall consider the following factors:

  • the child's relationship with the parents

  • whether each parent is able to care for the child

  • whether each parent is willing to accept all responsibilities of parenting

  • whether the child can best maintain a relationship with both parents through consistent contact

  • whether the child's development will benefit from involvement from both parents

  • whether each parent is able to allow the other to provide care without intrusion

  • the suitability to implement joint custody

  • geographic distance between the parents

  • ability of the parents to cooperate regarding the needs of the child

  • whether either parent has engaged in acts of domestic abuse against any household member.

When custody is contested, the court will refer that issue to mediation if possible.

Unless it is indicated that domestic violence or child abuse has occurred, then the court will suspend mediation unless the court finds that:

  • the mediator has expertise in domestic violence

  • the victim is capable of negotiating with the other party in mediation

  • the mediation process has conditions protecting against an imbalance of power between the parties

In the case of domestic violence involving parents, the parent who is the victim requests mediation and the mediator is informed of the alleged domestic violence:

  • may order the parties to undergo individual counseling as appropriate, if the parties can afford the counseling.

  • may use, according to provisions, auxiliary services such as professional evaluation.

New Mexico Child Custody Factors - How Is Child Custody Decided In New Mexico?

If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a New Mexico judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".

In the state of New Mexico, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes New Mexico's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.

Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of New Mexico?

New Mexico has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.

Do judges in the state of New Mexico favor joint custody?

Judges in New Mexico are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.

Courts in New Mexico are presumed to generally favor custody orders granting joint custody between both the parents where possible. However, the judge will evaluate each case individually when determing whether joint custody is in the best interests of the child.

Do New Mexico courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?

New Mexico courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. New Mexico law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.

Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of New Mexico?

In New Mexico, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.

Do New Mexico courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?

New Mexico has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.

Do the courts in the state of New Mexico have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?

New Mexico has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.

| State Law Official Text

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