How Courts Make Custody Decisions

Child custody can be a major source of stress and conflict for families, and the process of determining custody can be difficult and emotional. In the United States, the best interests of the child are the primary consideration in all custody cases. In New Mexico, the courts follow specific guidelines outlined in N.M.S.A. §40-4-9 to determine whether a custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests. These guidelines consider factors such as the wishes of the parents and the child, the mental and physical health of all parties involved, and the child’s adjustment to their home and community. There is a presumption in New Mexico courts that it is in the best interests of the child for joint custody, where both parents have “significant, well-defined periods of responsibility” for the child. However, the courts will also consider additional factors, such as the ability of the parents to communicate and cooperate, the suitability of a parenting plan, and the willingness of each parent to accept all responsibilities of parenting. The information provided herein, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Custody cases and determinations involve a complex set of rules, processes, and evidence in arriving at a final decision. Sometimes, judges use experts and other times judges simply rely on the evidence presented in hearings or trial. Regardless of the process, understanding the system and what to expect during a custody case is key to obtaining positive outcomes. If you are involved in a child custody case, contact Justice Legal Group to help you navigate the process. Our firm focuses primarily on complex custody and support cases. Call us today at 505-880-8737.