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What Actions May Cost a Parent Custody of Their Child in New Mexico?

— April 27, 2022

State law gives the judge a number of guidelines that are used to determine the best interests of the child during a custody hearing.

Albuquerque, NM – When custody issues arise, the final say regarding where the child stays and how long each parent has custody is made by the judge assigned to the case. However, there are certain factors that may cause the judge to limit, reduce, or terminate custody rights. Usually, this is done because of some kind of abuse, neglect, or misconduct. The legal standard that is used and gives the judge discretion is called the best interests of the child. 

Presumption of joint custody

Under New Mexico custody law, there is a presumption that both parents should be involved in the children’s upbringing, that there will be input from both parents for major life decisions, and that each parent will have some time with the child and responsibility for raising them. This may not translate into the exact same amount of time spent together, but courts do want parents to have the ability to raise a child together. 

Sole custody rights

In some situations, the judge is able to make a decision that one parent should have sole custody of their children. This can be done for a number of reasons, but usually because one parent is determined to be unfit to provide the right kind of environment for their child. 

Factors related to the best interests of the child

Laughing child in father's arms; image by Joice Kelly, via
Laughing child in father’s arms; image by Joice Kelly, via

State law gives the judge a number of guidelines that are used to determine the best interests of the child during a custody hearing. In most cases, things like the parent’s financial situation, the child’s community ties, and the mental and physical health of the parents are considered. However, there are specific factors related to prior problems that may be important in cases where custody rights are terminated entirely.

Negative aspects of the parent’s past

If a parent has previously committed domestic violence, child abuse, or other criminal offenses, this is to be a factor weighed by the judge when determining custody. It is likely that a parent with these kinds of convictions in their background may engage in violent behavior or harm the child again, which means that the judge would be reluctant to order any custody time and may award the other parent sole custody. As a general rule, if a parent has issues with crime, domestic violence, or abuse in their background, they should attempt to prepare to explain their past with their lawyer. Each judge can ultimately determine whether they think the person should be allowed to spend time with the child or not. 

Finding a child custody lawyer in New Mexico contains valuable information for anyone who needs legal help and wants to speak with a local professional in Albuquerque. Experienced attorneys are listed by state and practice area.

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