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Child Custody In New Mexico

New Mexico Child Custody Lawyer

Probably one of the most difficult issues facing a judge is child custody in New Mexico. The Court should develop timesharing arrangements that are in the child’s best interest. That can be tough to determine.

Sometimes the answers are obvious, though. If one party has to travel for work, say as a long-distance truck driver or in the military, that person is probably not going to get primary physical custody of the child. New Mexico courts love stability for the children.

Make your custody case stronger by maximizing the stability of the children. You can:

  • Try to keep the marital home
  • Stay in the same school district
  • Continue to live near the children’s normal daycare provider

All of these can help the child maintain some stability. The Court will appreciate your efforts.

New Mexico’s Joint Custody Statute

NMSA (1978) § 40-4-9.1 provides that “There shall be a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of a child in an initial custody determination.” Per the law, “custody” is defined as:

“… the authority and responsibility to make major decisions in a child’s best interests in the areas of residence, medical and dental treatment, education or child care, religion and recreation.”

“Joint custody means an order of the court awarding custody of a child to two parents.”

Most courts and attorneys divide the custody elements of a parenting plan in two.

Legal custody, which refers to making important decisions with respect to the children, such as school, doctors, and the like.

Timesharing, sometimes called “physical custody,” refers to where the child spends her or his time.

What Factors Are Considered For Awarding Custody?

The Court is to consider the following factors in making a custody award:

  1. Whether the child has established a close relationship with each parent.
  2. Is each parent is capable of providing adequate care for the child throughout each period of responsibility, including arranging for the child’s care by others as needed.
  3. Whether each parent is willing to accept all responsibilities of parenting, including a willingness to accept care of the child at specified times and to relinquish care to the other parent at specified times.
  4. If the child can best maintain and strengthen a relationship with both parents through predictable, frequent contact and whether the child’s development will profit from such involvement and influence from both parents.
  5. Whether each parent is able to allow the other to provide care without intrusion, that is, to respect the other’s parental rights and responsibilities and right to privacy.
  6. The suitability of a parenting plan for the implementation of joint custody, preferably, although not necessarily, one arrived at through parental agreement.
  7. Geographic distance between the parents’ residences.
  8. Willingness or ability of the parents to communicate, cooperate or agree on issues regarding the child’s needs.
  9. Whether a judicial adjudication has been made in a prior or the present proceeding that either parent or other person seeking custody has engaged in one or more acts of domestic abuse against the child, a parent of the child or other household member. If a determination is made that domestic abuse has occurred, the court shall set forth findings that the custody or visitation ordered by the court adequately protects the child, the abused parent or other household member.

Many times people ask, “When does the child get to decide which parent they want to live with?” There really is no age when this happens. There is a New Mexico Statute that says a when a child reaches the age of 14, he or she can tell the Court which parent they want to reside with. The Court will still make a custody decision based upon the child’s best interest, however. The Courts also are not strong proponents of this statute. Their thinking is that it probably isn’t a good idea to have a child choose between their parents.

New Mexico Child Custody Attorney

Contact William J. Morgan, a knowledgeable child custody lawyer in Albuquerque, if you have any questions about child custody in New Mexico.

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