We are often presented with the question of “when can my child decide who he wants to live with?” This is a legitimate question, especially when you have a situation where the child keeps telling you he/she wants to live with you. The short answer to this question is “never!” While the statutory framework on child custody in New Mexico indicates that the age of 14 is significant, it’s only significant to the extent that the court must NOW consider the child’s desires. This doesn’t mean that the child decides. The decision on where the child resides will still rest squarely with the court.
How this plays out, however, is that you now have a real legitimate factor that the court must now consider when awarding custody. It is error for the court not to consider the child’s desires. The way the court will consider those desires, however, takes different forms. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem, or may appoint a custody expert or may even have an “in camera” hearing with the child. Regardless, the fact is when your child turns 14 significant events may give rise to custody modifications. You should be aware of these changes.