Albuquerque & Las Cruces Child Custody Attorney
Resolving child custody disputes efficiently and favorably can be important to minimize the distress experienced by all involved parties, including the parents and the children. If you are ensnared in a child custody dispute in or outside of a divorce case, you can turn to a seasoned Albuquerque child custody lawyer at Sutherland Law Firm, LLC for exceptional representation and counsel.
For Albuquerque: Call 505-539-3232 or Email Us
For Las Cruces: Call Call (575) 904-0464 or Email Us
for Essential Advice & Advocacy for Your Custody Case
Backed by more than four decades of family law experience, our skilled attorneys can help you protect your rights and interests at any phase of a custody dispute. We are ready to help you anticipate and overcome the challenges in your custody case so you are able to focus on what matters most – your child.
Child Custody FAQs: Answers about Physical & Legal Custody Matters in New Mexico
Shedding light on the issues and complexities of these cases, the following shares some helpful answers to frequently asked questions about child custody matters in New Mexico. As soon as you are ready for answers pertaining to your situation and needs, simply contact Sutherland Law Firm, LLC.
Do Family Courts Favor Mothers in Child Custody Disputes?
No, New Mexico family courts1 do not automatically give mothers – or either parent – a preference for custody when parents disagree on how to split custody.
Instead, the courts prioritize the best interests of the involved child. Generally, this means that courts will look to award each parent some amount of custody, so long as neither parent presents a threat to the child’s safety or wellbeing.
Please be aware that, under New Mexico law, the term “custody” includes two key elements:
- Timesharing or physical custody
- Decision-making authority or legal custody.
The courts can do not have to split timesharing and decision-making authority in the same way.
Does a Child Get to Choose How (S)he Wants Custody to Be Split?
The child’s wishes regarding custody will be taken into consideration by the court when:
- Parents do not agree on the custody split.
- The child is old enough to share his or her wishes regarding custody.
The child’s wishes, however, are just one aspect of “best interest” factors that the court will consider. Other best interest factors can include (but are not exclusive to):
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- The child’s ties to his or her current community
- Whether the child would have to adjust to a new school and/or community.
When Will a Court Refuse to Grant a Parent Custody?
With child custody cases in New Mexico, the law dictates that the courts should operate under the assumption that joint custody is generally best. In other words, the courts will assume that the child should maintain a relationship with both parents. This means that the courts tend to be disinclined to award sole physical custody.
That, however, does not mean that sole custody is never awarded. When circumstances like (but not limited to) the following may be involved in a custody case, the courts will consider awarding sole custody:
- A parent is accused of child abuse or domestic violence.
- A parent is facing criminal charges, has been convicted of a serious criminal offense or is currently incarcerated.
- A parent has serious mental health issues that prevent him or her from protecting and promoting the wellbeing of the child.
In these circumstances, however, supervised visitation (or other options) may be explored by the court.
Can Child Custody Orders Be Changed in the Future?
Yes. After a court has issued custody orders, these orders can be modified in the future, as long as there are circumstances to warrant a modification. Examples of these circumstances can include (and are not limited to) a parent:
- Needing to move for a job
- Being diagnosed with a new ailment
- Being charged with a serious crime or being incarcerated.
When it’s time to modify existing custody orders, you will need to petition the court for a modification. In other words, you cannot just decide to change the orders on your own.
Can I Withhold Custody If the Other Parent Refuses to Pay Court-Ordered Child Support?
No. If the other parent is violating court orders regarding child support, your refusal to comply with custody orders can get you in trouble. Instead, it’s best to go back to court and let the family law judge determine the penalties that should be imposed.
Depending on the situation, penalties for non-payment of child support can include (and may not be limited to):
- Driver’s license suspension
- Wage garnishment
- Jail time.
If, however, you are the parent ordered to pay child support and some financial hardship prevents you from doing so, it’s strongly advised that you return to court to seek a modification of support orders, rather than simply stop paying.
An Albuquerque Child Custody Lawyer at Sutherland Law Firm, LLC Is Ready to Help You
For experienced help resolving any type of child custody dispute, call an Albuquerque child custody lawyer at Sutherland Law Firm, LLC at (575) 708-9000 or a Las Cruces child custody lawyer at Sutherland Law Firm, LLC at (575) 904-0464 or email our firm.
Knowledgeable, empathetic, and dedicated, our attorneys are ready to help you successfully navigate the complexities of your family’s legal issues so you can obtain the best possible outcomes and move on with your life.
From offices based in Albuquerque, we provide superior counsel and representation to clients throughout New Mexico. Our attorneys are also licensed to practice in Texas and Michigan.
1: The Third Judicial District Court handles custody and other family law cases in Albuquerque and throughout Doña Ana County.