How to Obtain Child Custody in New Mexico

By Mary Jane Freeman

If you're divorcing your child's other parent, you not only have to prepare to live separate lives, but you must also figure out how to parent from two separate homes. When you file for divorce in New Mexico, you and your spouse must resolve any and all custody issues before the divorce can be finalized. If you are unable to reach an agreement on your own, the court will step in and make the decision for you, choosing a custody arrangement that serves the best interests of your child.

If you're divorcing your child's other parent, you not only have to prepare to live separate lives, but you must also figure out how to parent from two separate homes. When you file for divorce in New Mexico, you and your spouse must resolve any and all custody issues before the divorce can be finalized. If you are unable to reach an agreement on your own, the court will step in and make the decision for you, choosing a custody arrangement that serves the best interests of your child.

Parenting Plan

If you have children and file for divorce in New Mexico, you may request custody in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage filed with the court. If you and your spouse are in agreement as to the custody arrangement, you may submit a parenting plan along with the petition. In the plan, you describe whether you and your spouse will exercise joint legal custody, making important decisions regarding your child together, such as education, religion and health care, or if only one parent will have this responsibility through sole custody. Additionally, you list the time-sharing schedule, which basically describes with whom the child lives and when each parent will have access to the child.

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Disagreement

If you and your spouse are unable to reach a custody agreement, this becomes a contested issue in your divorce. When this happens, the court will make the decision for you. Prior to trial, the court is likely to order mediation. If you reach an agreement with the help of mediation, the terms are formalized in a parenting plan and submitted to the court. If approved, the court incorporates the agreement into the divorce decree and finalizes the divorce, making a trial unnecessary unless other contested issues remain. If mediation proves unsuccessful, the matter will proceed to trial.

Court Intervention

When a court decides child custody as part of a divorce, it does so based on the best interests of the child. To make this determination, the court looks at a variety of factors, such as the relationship between the parents and child; the child's adjustment to home, school and community; the mental and physical health of parents and child; and the child's wishes. In addition, New Mexico courts start off with the presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child. However, this presumption can be overcome. For example, if you can prove the other parent has been abusive or abuses drugs, the court is likely to award you with sole custody.

Special Circumstances

If you are divorcing an abusive spouse, New Mexico has protections built into the process. If an emergency exists, you may petition the court for a temporary protection order, or TPO. You will be asked to describe the instances of domestic abuse, both on the petition and before the judge who will sign the petition later that day. The court also has the authority to award you with temporary custody while the TPO is in place, even if your spouse currently has the child. The TPO remains in effect until a subsequent hearing on the matter is held, which must take place within 10 days of the TPO being approved. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to convert the TPO into a permanent order, which lasts for one year and can be extended.

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Illinois State Laws on Obtaining Sole Custody

References

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Informal Custody Agreement

Informal custody agreements range from casual conversations about who will take care of the children on which days to more formal written agreements, drafted through mediation and legal assistance. Informal custody agreements can turn into formal agreements, if the documents are filed with the court and approved by the judge. Then the informal agreements are incorporated into the divorce decree, which sets out the terms of the divorce. Informal agreements often include arrangements between parents who were never married, are temporarily separated or in the preliminary stages of a divorce.

What a Judge Looks at in Custody Hearing in Illinois

Custody disputes may be a highly contentious and emotional issue for recently divorced parents. In making a custody determination, Illinois courts look at evidence that shows what is in the best interest of the child. To help in this determination, the court may appoint individuals to represent the child's interests. However, custody orders may not be permanent, and either parent has the right to request modification of a custody order if the circumstances change.

Nevada State Laws on Custody Prior to Divorce

Often, parents in Nevada will ask the court to make a temporary custody determination before the divorce is final. Without a custody order in place, the parents have joint custody, meaning either parent may make decisions for the child or provide a home for the child. In making both temporary and permanent custody determinations, Nevada courts are primarily concerned with what is in the best interest of the child.

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