Las Cruces Custody & Time Sharing Attorneys

Child Custody Lawyer in Albuquerque and Las Cruces

New Mexico law divides child custody into two areas: legal and physical custody. In New Mexico, the best interests of the child are the guiding principles for deciding custody, and the starting point in any custody case is joint custody between the parents.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility of every parent to make decisions regarding the child’s health, education, religion, and upbringing, regardless of which parent has physical custody of the child. In New Mexico, the presumption is that the parents share joint legal custody.

If one parent believes that the other parent is not capable of making rational or responsible decisions about the child, they can bring a motion before a New Mexico family court. Removing legal custody from a parent is a radical step and is rarely done.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to the time each parent spends with the child. With sole custody, one parent is given complete custody of the child, and the other parents has visitation rights. With joint custody, the parents share time with the child, though not necessarily in a 50/50 split. The judge will examine the environment of each living situation to determine whether and how physical custody will be shared.

Custody disputes, especially legal custody, are complicated, fraught with emotion, and very difficult and expensive. You need an experienced New Mexico child custody attorney to review your case and help you decide the best course of action for your child. If you think that your custody arrangement needs to be reviewed and modified, please contact the Sutherland Law Firm in Albuquerque.

Whether you are moving forward with an uncontested or contested divorce, you can turn to a Los Cruces divorce lawyer at Sutherland Law Firm, LLC for compassion, effective representation and the highest quality legal services.

Call 505-539-3232 or Email Us for Answers about Your Divorce Case & Options

We are ready to advocate your rights, protect your interests, and help you get through the conflict and difficult times.


Each family has the right to draft its own custody arrangement, called a Parenting Plan. Every Parenting Plan is subject to New Mexico family court review and approval. If the judge doesn’t believe the Parenting Plan is in the best interests of the child, the court will reject the proposed Parenting Plan. If determining child custody is due to a pending divorce, the family law court will not grant the divorce unless the parents include an acceptable Parenting Plan with the divorce petition.


If the parents haven’t been able to resolve the custody matter themselves, or their Parenting Plan is unacceptable, the court can send the parents to mediation for professional assistance. In mediation, parents are encouraged to draft an acceptable Parenting Plan with the assistance of various professionals, including therapists, psychologists, and mediators.

If the parents can’t resolve their custody dispute with mediation, the court will make the final decision. If the custody dispute goes to court, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to represent the child.