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.

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.


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.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

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.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Apply for Sole Custody in Baltimore, Maryland


Related articles

What Happens After Filing for Divorce in Oregon?

When you file for divorce, you will complete a divorce petition. The petition asks for personal information about both you and your spouse, including your home address. In addition, you must include the terms of your divorce in the petition. For example, you will decide how to divide the marital property and child custody arrangements. Whether you and your spouse agree about the terms of your divorce will determine what occurs after you file for divorce.

How to Get Full Custody of a Child in Texas

If you cannot agree on custody terms with your child's other parent and you desire full custody of your child, you will need to be prepared to engage in a custody battle. . Obtaining full custody in Texas is difficult as there is a presumption that joint custody will be most beneficial to the child. Before you begin, determine if you already have a custody order regarding your child. If you have not previously filed for custody you will need to seek a new custody order with the court. If you already have an custody order, you will seek to modify that order.

Rights of a Sole Custodial Parent

Divorcing parents often fight hardest over child custody, and you may ask the court for sole custody of your child. Child custody laws vary somewhat by state, but courts have flexibility to divide custody in a way that is in the best interests of your child. If this means you receive sole custody, you will have more rights than if you shared custody with your ex-spouse.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

NH Laws About Getting Physical Custody of Children

New Hampshire has joined the ranks of a few other states that no longer use the term "custody" to describe the legal ...

How to File for Custody of Children Prior to Divorce in Florida

Florida courts have moved away from using the term "custody" and instead assign either shared or sole "parental ...

How to Get Child Custody If a Parent Refuses to Sign the Papers

Because child custody disputes can be contentious and stressful, family courts encourage parents to settle their ...

How to File for Sole Custody & Supervised Visitation in New Jersey

In New Jersey, there is a strong presumption in favor of preserving the family unit and ensuring children have ample ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED