Child Custody Laws in New Mexico

After coming to the decision to separate or divorce, parents have a lot of decisions to make. Some of the most important decisions parents must make focus on their child such as where will their child live or go to school. Many parents are able to come to these decisions on their own, while many others must enlist help from family law professionals, or even a judge, to determine how their situation will be settled. New Mexico child custody laws may be similar to laws in other states, but it is important to know what the laws are in your state specifically. 

What to expect for New Mexico child custody laws

When looking at each case for the first time, New Mexico child custody laws uphold the assumption that it is in the child's best interest for parents to be in a joint custody arrangement. This is subject to investigation in every case, as New Mexico courts will review several factors in determining what is the best arrangement according to the child's best interest.

Some of these factors include examining how willing and able each parent is to accept parenting responsibilities ranging from daily care to making decisions for the child, how willing the parents are to communicate and make decisions together, and how close the relationship is between each parent and the child.

Another factor that can impact an arrangement under New Mexico child custody laws is whether there is a reported history of domestic abuse performed by any family member against another. Among a few others, these factors will greatly impact the outcome of a child custody arrangement. 

If the court decides to award joint custody, a parenting plan will be established and implemented. This plan will indicate a custody schedule as well as details about how major decisions will be made regarding the child, and how the parents will communicate.

If parents cannot agree on all aspects of the parenting plan, then the judge will ask that each parent individually submits a parenting plan for reviewal. It is possible for the court to accept one of these proposed plans, or the court may create a plan if a new plan will be better suited to the child's best interest.

Types of custody under New Mexico child custody laws

Common in many other states, New Mexico child custody laws recognize both legal and physical custody. These will be assigned to parents on a joint or sole basis.

Legal custody refers to a parent's responsibility to make decisions based on the child's needs. These would include decisions regarding the child's education, health care, and religious practice. Joint legal custody would grant both parents rights to make these decisions, while sole legal custody would only grant one parent these rights.  

Physical custody refers to how much time a child spends with one or both parents. Physical custody agreements often vary based on where the court believes is the best environment for the child to spend most or all of their time. A joint physical custody agreement can give each parent equal time with their child, or it can give one parent majority of the time and the other parent with just some time. On the other hand, a sole custody agreement would have the child living full time with one parent, and the other parent may be granted some visitation. 

This information is not to be considered legal advice, so please refer to an attorney for guidance on your situation. No matter the case, the OurFamilyWizard website works to provide co-parents with the tools and resources they need to more easily manage their custody arrangement.

For family law resources in your area, check out our resources page for New Mexico. The OurFamilyWizard website is committed to helping families more easily manage co-parenting responsibilities by providing shared tools to document a shared custody schedule, parenting expenses, and more. 


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.