Although mothers and fathers have exactly the same rights as it relates to divorce and custody in the state of New Mexico, women often face unique challenges in these types of cases. More than ever, many law firms today are now touting themselves as “Father’s Rights,” lawyers. While this is something of a misnomer in New Mexico, it does signal that some lawyers are becoming much more aggressive in pushing their male client’s divorce and custody cases. As a woman, it is important to see things as they truly are in your case, not worse than they are. This way, when certain claims (and even threats) are made by your spouse, such as a claim that your spouse is going to take away the children, you can handle these issues appropriately.
Mothers' Rights in New Mexico
What Your Really Need To Know as a Woman and as a Mother in New Mexico
For women who have been stay-at-home mothers and have not been the primary breadwinner in a relationship, there is often a power imbalance that is present at the beginning of a case. This often comes about because of a lack of financial information and not really knowing where to begin or what to ask for during the divorce process.
Even in cases where both parties are on equal footing, or even when the woman has been the primary breadwinner, there are sometimes threats made by the husband regarding custody and financial resolutions, that can really create problems in a case if you are not ready for them or know what your rights are.
What You Can Do as a Mother in Your Divorce and Custody Case
Many lawyers today are now demanding 50-50 custody arrangements for their male clients even in cases where their clients have been little more than “weekend fathers.” They base this on the argument that men and women have equal rights to custody of their children in custody cases. While this true, that simply does not mean that 50-50 is what the court is required to award.
The court is required to apply the standard of “best interests of the child,” when making a custody determination. So, it is important that you hire a lawyer who knows how to handle custody cases, who can say no to a deal that is not good for your kids, and can demonstrate effectively why your proposed schedule is in the best interests of your children.
It is also important to hire a lawyer who understands how to obtain early and accurate financial information from opposing party, and who can put together a clear financial picture for you. Much of what is involved in obtaining the proper award of child support and spousal support (alimony) has to do with presenting a financial plan to the court, including your budget, that will secure the proper financial award to you.
One frequent problem that women have in their divorce cases is that their spouses do not communicate effectively about the children. There are, however, many tools that are now available that use modern technology to help parties co-parent their children effectively. One of these is called Our Family Wizard, which can help coordinate communication with the parties, and can also be used to show the court compliance or non-compliance with court orders. You should always consider these sorts of tools when putting together a parenting plan or making a proposal to the court or opposing party.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a mother’s right for child custody?
All parents have constitutional rights to raise their children how they see fit except in excruciating circumstances. That applies to both fathers and mothers. Under New Mexico law, fathers and mothers have equal rights to their children, although that does NOT mean that fathers and mothers will always have 50/50 parenting time and joint decision-making. The court must issue a custody plan in the best interests of the children. Many mothers happen to be the primary parent for a majority of their children’s lives, or at least when the children are infants. This will be taken into account by the court as the past pattern of involvement of the parties.
Can a mother’s parental rights be terminated?
A termination of a mother’s rights is taken extremely serious by the court. A termination of rights is different than a mother’s parenting time or decision-making being temporarily discontinued. Parenting time and decision-making can almost always be modified in the future, but a termination is permanent. It is a very high standard that has to be met to terminate a parent’s rights, whether it is the mother or father.
Do mother have rights if not married?
Yes, mothers have rights if married to the children’s father or not. The parties marital status determines the type of case the lawyers file. If the parents are not married, an allocation of parental responsibilities case can establish parenting time, decision-making, and child support.