What Divorced Couples Should Know about Child Custody

Divorce can be challenging once kids are in the picture. Parents need to deal with more rules. Negotiations and compromises can extend for a few more days or weeks. When they cannot agree, they can end up facing the court.

For New Mexico couples who decide to leave each other for good, they might have to work with an Albuquerque family lawyer. This way, they can receive sound, professional advice. But it also pays to learn more about child custody laws of the state.

How the Court Decides on Custody

Like in most states, New Mexico family courts based their judgment on custody on the best interests of the child. For example, which of the parents is closer to the kid? Who lives near the child’s school, or who has a better financial capability to raise the child? The courts allow the children to express their desires, but it is only when they are older that their choices can be more substantial. In New Mexico, that age is around 14 years old. In some states, it can be as young as 12 years old.

The court can also decide on two types of custody: legal and physical. In legal custody, the parent has the responsibility for the child’s overall welfare, such as healthcare, education, and religion. In physical custody, the parent’s residence becomes the child’s as well. The judge can grant both to a single parent or decide to give legal custody to one and then physical custody to another. Care can also be split 50-50, or one parent might have sole custody while the other receives visitation rights.

Time-sharing and Compromises

Acting on the best interests of the child, the court can decide to grant 50-50 custody, especially if both parents are close to the kid. This way, the family can retain or even foster their relationship despite the divorce.

In some cases, the other parent might receive visitation rights. The court, an Albuquerque family lawyer, and the couple can work together to set the rules. However, the court will also respect it if the couple decides on another arrangement later. It is possible unless the new agreement negatively affects the child.

Establishing Paternity

Father with baby son

As mentioned, determining child custody takes time. Couples might have to go through many processes, and one of these is establishing paternity. The court can request it for unmarried or common-law partners. The results can influence child support and custody.

Guardianship and Foster Care

Family courts award custody on either or both parents as long as they are fit to do their duties. Unfortunately, not everyone can. In situations where neither of them can be responsible parents, the child can end up in the foster care system. Guardianship is also possible.

In fact, in New Mexico, more relatives are seeking guardianship. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of such cases rose by over 70%. It can be a much better arrangement for the child and the government since it helps prevent overburdening the foster care system. Those who take in their child relatives do not receive foster care benefits.

The divorce process can last for only a few days or months, but the effects, especially on children, can be long-term. Everyone involved, therefore, should work together to reduce unfavorable outcomes as much as possible.

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