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New Mexico Child Custody
Child Custody in New Mexico
New Mexico Annotated Statutes 40-4-9, 40-4-9.1 provide that the court determines contested custody cases deciding the best interests of the child and considering all relevant factors.
New Mexico child custody laws protect the welfare of the child. The court determines child custody based on the best interests of the child.
The court strongly recommends that divorcing parents cooperate in preparing a parenting plan that outlines their respective responsibilities in raising their child. The court steps in to resolve issues on child custody, support, and visitation rights when the parents cannot do it.
The court does not favor one parent over the other based on gender. The family courts have jurisdiction over custody cases and choose the child's custodian. Either joint custody or sole custody can be granted.
In determining the best interests of the child, the court considers:
In deciding on a custody arrangement, the court considers:
A parent who seeks modification of a custody order must present proof of a material and substantial change of circumstances that adversely affects the best interests of the child.
Joint Custody Preference
New Mexico law expresses a preference for parents to share as equally as practically possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case, so joint custody is considered beneficial for the child. This type of custody allows both parents joint rights and responsibilities in raising their child(ren). Also, it strengthens the parent-child relationship even after divorce. However, this is not always possible in cases where the child's welfare is at risk with one of the parents.
In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child.
The court considers whether either parent was found to have committed an act of domestic violence against a child, a parent or another household member.
The New Mexico courts have full discretion when determining visitation between children and parents. The courts can establish visitation between one or more parent, even if both parents agreed upon a no-visitation policy. Basic visitation means one parent has full custody of the child. The other parent is given less than 35 percent of the time in a year.
Two schedules - A and B - are used when calculating child support depending on the percentage of visitation time. In circumstances where one parent has the child at least 65 percent of the time, Schedule A applies. Schedule B is usually used in a joint custody arrangement where each parent has at least 35 percent of the time with the child (NMSA Section 40-4-9.1A). The non-custodial parent has visitation rights when the child is with the other parent.
Both parents are regarded as natural guardians who must have access to the child under New Mexico law. The presumption is that it is in the best interest of the child if both parents are involved in his or her upbringing (NMSA Section 40-4-9.1A). That's why the non-custodial parent is granted visitation rights. For as long as the non-custodial parent is paying child support, visitation is not a problem.
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