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How Is Child Custody Determined in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. New Mexico law assumes that joint custody is best for children. The court aims to ensure that the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents, provided it is in the child’s best interests.  

There are two aspects to child custody that are separate and distinct in New Mexico, Legal Custody and Physical Custody.

What is Legal Custody of Children in New Mexico? 

In New Mexico, the legal custody of children is defined by which parent has the authority to make major decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions include determining where the children go to school, medical decisions, and more. In New Mexico, legal custody does not impact the parenting time spent with the child, only the decision-making responsibilities. 

What is the Preferred Custody Arrangement in New Mexico? 

The preference in New Mexico is for decision-making responsibilities or legal custody to be shared among both parents. In order for this to happen, both parents need to put effort into collaboration. However, there are exceptions to this ruling. Issues such as child abuse, drug abuse, and domestic violence can leave the courts with no choice but to award sole legal custody to one parent, granting that parent all or most decision-making power.

New Mexico Physical Custody and Visitation 

Legal custody and physical custody are two separate types of custody in New Mexico. Physical custody determines how much time a child spends with each parent. The division of physical custody depended on multiple factors such as age and number of children. While physical custody can be 50-50 in New Mexico, the proportions of time can vary greatly depending on other factors unique to the case. The parent with a greater amount of visitation time is usually referred to as the primary custodian in cases without 50-50 physical custody. 

What Factors Will the Judge Consider in a Child Custody Case? 

In New Mexico family law, it’s common for a judge to consider a number of factors when determining physical and legal custody such as:

  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver?
  • Any history of alcohol, drug, or physical abuse?
  • The age of the child
  • The child’s preferences (if of suitable age)
  • The present relationship between the child and each parent
  • The structure of the extended family
  • The parent’s ability to cooperate
  • The work schedules of parents

Can A Child Custody Order Change in New Mexico? 

Yes, once a custody order has been entered by a New Mexico court, changes to the order can be requested. If a child custody agreement no longer works for a parent, they may request a modification. Parents can either both consent to a change in the custody agreement or if they do not agree, a motion filed in court can review the matter. The Court has consistent authority to modify custody orders at any time in New Mexico. 

Working With A Child Custody Lawyer in New Mexico

Child Custody in New Mexico can be a delicate matter, and when your children are involved no one wants to see them suffer throughout the divorce. The experienced child custody lawyers at New Mexico Legal Group work to prioritize the best interests of your children at every stage of the process. 

Contact the experienced child custody attorneys at New Mexico Legal Group by submitting a free case evaluation or calling us at 505-843-7303 in Albuquerque or 575-339-2100 in Las Cruces.


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Email: info@newmexicolegalgroup.com

(505) 843-7303

Albuquerque Office
2701 Arizona Street NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
(505) 843-7303

Rio Rancho Office
4351 Jager Dr., NE
Rio Rancho, NM 87102
(505) 247-4529

Las Cruces Office
300 S Water St.
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 339-2100

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