Find the right lawyer now

Child Custody Decisions in New Mexico

Find a Local Family Lawyer near You

What Does New Mexico Law Encourage in Child Custody Disputes?

New Mexico law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts make custody decisions based on what is in the "best interest" of the child. Typically, the courts favor joint custody, although sole custody may be granted under certain circumstances.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how divorcing parents will share legal and physical custody of their children. In New Mexico, the court must have a parenting plan before it can finalize a divorce. If parents cannot agree on a plan, the court typically will order mediation (a dispute resolution process). If mediation is unsuccessful, each parent must submit his or her own proposed plan for the court’s consideration.

What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?

New Mexico courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child.  These factors include:

  • The physical and mental health of the child and parents,
  • The child’s connection to his or her current home, school, and community,
  • The history of contact between the parents and the child,
  • The strength of parental, sibling, and other familial relationships,
  • The parents’ willingness and ability to raise the child,
  • The distance between the parents’ residences,
  • Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse,
  • The child’s reasonable preference (especially if 14 years old or older), and
  • The parents’ wishes.

A parent’s gender is not considered as a factor. (In other words, the court must treat mothers and fathers equally.) In a custody dispute, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess his or her best interests. The court may also require a custody evaluation by a psychologist or other trained professional. 

What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?

Once the parenting plan and divorce order are signed, they are filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved custody order and the court must approve any modification of the plan. 

Should I Contact a New Mexico Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?

Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.

Photo of page author Leigh Ebrom

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-24-2018 12:04 AM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.