Putting Your Children First After Divorce in New Mexico
NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC cares about your family and your children. We know that a divorce or separation can be a complicated situation, but our Albuquerque child custody attorneys are here to protect you and your child’s best interests.
Contact us today at (505) 431-4716 to speak with our New Mexico child custody lawyers.
Why Work With NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC?
- We have decades of combined experience.
- We go the extra mile to ensure your family's needs are taken care of.
- We provide compassionate counsel to get you through difficult, emotional times.
- Your family's well-being is of the utmost importance to us.
Everyone’s support was wonderful, and so needed, during such a brutal, emotional, and heartbreaking time. - M.F.
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
There are two types of custody in New Mexico: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to which days the child is in each parent’s home and care. Legal custody refers to decision-making power over major aspects of the children’s lives, such as residence, religion, education, medical care, and major recreational activities. Legal custody does not determine how much time is spent with each parent.
Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody
Custody arrangements may be considered “sole” or “joint.” Sole custody means that only one parent is granted physical and legal custody of the child. Note that in some situations, even if one parent has sole custody, the other parent may still have visitation, often in a supervised setting. Joint custody, on the other hand, means that each parent has the right and responsibility to participate in making decisions about key areas of the child’s life, and there is a visitation schedule in place.
It is most common for New Mexico parents to receive joint legal custody with a specific schedule of when the child is in each parent’s physical custody on a regular basis and shared holidays.
Parents with joint custody may participate in decisions involving a child’s:
- Residence. If the child lives in New Mexico, then neither parent can move the child out of state or generally more than 50 miles from the current town without the written consent of the other parent or a court order approving the relocation.
- Religion. The religious practices the child followed (or did not follow) at the time of the divorce remains the same, meaning one parent cannot unilaterally change the religious practices of the child even if that parent changes his/her own beliefs or practices.
- Education / Day Care: If possible, the child should remain in the same school system, post-divorce. This includes private schooling if the parents can still afford this option. If the child is in public school or homeschool, the child should still receive their education in that environment. A young child should also remain in the same daycare or with the same after-school caregiver as before the divorce when possible.
- Non-Emergency Medical Treatment: Both parents have the right to attend non-emergency doctor or dental appointments with the child and have the right to speak with the medical providers. The child should continue to go the same medical providers post-divorce as long as they are covered by the child’s insurance plan.
Defending Your Visitation Rights in New Mexico
The correct legal term for when the child spends time with each parent is called “periods of responsibility.” Most people still use the term “visitation” or “timesharing”. This is the area of greatest disagreement between some parents who are divorcing or breaking up.
With that said, divorce or legal separation is a major upheaval for the entire family and the child will have to make some adjustments. There is no “default” or “standard” visitation schedule, even though it was common in previous times for the children to spend the majority of their time with the mother and every other weekend with the father, plus sharing holidays.
What Does "Best Interests of the Child" Mean and How Does it Affect Custody Decisions?
The time-sharing schedule of a child largely depends on who the primary caretaker of the child was before the divorce or legal separation. The judge focuses on the "best interests of the child."
The factors evaluated might include:
- The child's age
- The child's education, health care, extracurricular, or religious upbringing
- Each parent's capability to provide financially for the child's needs
- The child's relationship to each parent individually
- The child's relationship with siblings or other family members
- If there is evidence of drug or alcohol abuse from the parent
- If the parent has been violent in the past
- The child's personal preferences if he or she is old enough
Very young children usually cannot handle well spending significant time away from the parent with whom they are primarily bonded. This does not mean the child does not love both parents; it means the child depends on one parent to meet most of his or her daily needs.
We will work towards mediation and try to achieve the most positive outcome possible for your children.
Contact us today to request a consultation with our child custody lawyers in Albuquerque.
- We think outside the box to find the best solution for you and your family.
- Our lead attorney has been through a divorce herself and knows what you're going through.
- Our team has over 55 years of combined experience.
- We find practical solutions to fix your problems.