Initial custody determinations typically arise upon the filing of a divorce proceeding or when two unmarried individuals initiate a child custody or parentage action. However, child custody issues can also arise when modification to or enforcement of an existing child custody agreement is necessary.
Under New Mexico law, custody and timesharing are distinct from one another. There are two types of custody: Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody pertains to a parent’s authority to make legal decisions over the child, such as the child’s religious upbringing, education, healthcare, and other major life decisions.
In contrast, physical custody pertains to the amount of time a parent has with the child and day-to-day decision-making, such as chores, discipline, personal hygiene and style, and routine medical and educational decisions.
All custody determinations are made in accordance with the best interests of the child standard. Pursuant to New Mexico law, there is a presumption that joint physical and legal custody is in the child’s best interests when the Court makes an initial custody determination. Despite the presumption of joint custody, such a determination does not necessarily equate to equal timesharing or financial responsibility (child support) of the child.
Child custody matters can become quite complex, particularly when there are multiple children in one family and / or when children span a wide range of ages, which necessitates thoughtful, practical, and legally sound parenting plans and agreements that suit the family at large as well as each child individually, both today and for the many years that may lay ahead. Matters can be further complicated when a child requires special care (physical, educational or mental) or when the parties reside in different cities, states, or countries.
There may also be cases in which a third-party neutral may be necessary to help the Court make a custody determination that is in the best interests of the child. If so, the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem may not only be helpful, but critical. In cases in which a child is fourteen (14) or older, his or her wishes may be considered by the Court.
Dudelczyk Family Law is skilled in drafting detailed, legally sound, practical parenting plans that meet the needs of modern-day families, but that which are also designed to last until the child emancipates by age or circumstance.
Schedule a consultation with Dudelczyk Family Law to discuss your child custody matter.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended to provide individuals with a baseline understanding of the concept of child custody and timesharing in New Mexico and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Dudelczyk Family Law, LLC. Please consult or retain an attorney to discuss the specific needs of your case.