Guide to Child Custody Laws in New Mexico
One of the hardest parts of any divorce is deciding child custody. If you are a New Mexico parent who is currently engaged in a custody dispute, you may want to know about the child custody laws in New Mexico that will dictate how your custody case proceeds. This guide will give you a basic overview of the laws and terms that govern New Mexico's courts when they make a determination about child custody. After reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of the child custody laws in New Mexico and be able to conduct further research on your own.
Parenting Plans and Mediation
It can be extremely emotionally difficult for a child to go through the animosity and hostility of a custody hearing. To reduce the emotional effects on their children, and to save money on court costs, many parents prefer to come to an agreement about how to divide their parenting responsibilities. Child custody laws in New Mexico allow you to draft a parenting plan that specifies your agreement so that the court can approve it. Generally, courts will approve any parenting plan that appears to be agreed to by both parents and will be in the best interest of a child.
Parents who cannot come to an agreement on their own may be ordered into mediation by the court. Child custody laws in New Mexico allow mediation as an alternative to a child custody hearing. This inexpensive, informal option allows parents to meet with a third-party, neutral mediator and work out their disagreements constructively. If mediation is successful in generating an agreement about all parenting issues, the mediator will draft the parenting plan so that a judge can sign off on it and make it final.
“Custody” actually refers to two separate legal concepts that are very different from one another. Legal custody refers to the ability of a parent to make major choices for his or her child, including decisions about school, healthcare, and religion.
Child custody laws in New Mexico lead to judges commonly awarding joint legal custody to parents. Joint legal custody involves both parents working together to make major decisions for their child Often, but not always, this will involve each parent having physical custody of the child at least 35% of the time. Child custody laws in New Mexico also allow judges to award sole legal custody to one parent if this is in the best interest of the child. If sole legal custody is awarded, the non-custodial parent is not entitled to be part of the decisionmaking process for these major choices.
The second kind of custody, physical custody, refers to where a child is living. This is often the kind of custody parents fight over most. Child custody laws in New Mexico allow judges to divide physical custody in whatever way seems best for the child. Some parents find that a 50/50 split or close to it will offer their child the best environment, but other times, primary physical custody will be awarded to one parent, or sole custody with only small amounts of visitation for the non-custodial parent.