In the state of New Mexico, there are laws and processes in place to protect the best interests and well being of children. This is true when it comes to issues of guardianship, that is, deciding who will care for a child in a specific circumstance. The Kinship Guardianship Act offers guidelines for decision-making by the courts.
What is the Kinship Guardianship Act in New Mexico?
The kinship guardianship act states some parameters for who can be a legal guardian in New Mexico. It does not require someone to be related to the child or children in question. In a circumstance where a parent cannot raise their own child(ren), the court can give preference to someone able and willing to care for them. This could be a relative or a family friend.
However, a bond between the persons must be established. Of course, guardianship of someone who is not the parent must be granted by the courts.
There are some key items to consider in establishing a bond, and the rights of guardianship. They may include, but are not limited to whether parental rights have been terminated by the court, whether the parent(s) have consented to the individual as a guardian, whether the child(ren) are already present in the home of the potential guardian, and/or if there is no guardian in place.
Can Anyone be a Guardian?
According to New Mexico law a court appointed guardian must be at least 18 years old and does not have to be a relative of the person. Therefore, guardians can be biological (aunts, uncles, grandparents or cousins) or non-biological (a family friend or neighbor).
Whether related or not, a potential guardian must show they have a relationship with the child(ren). Importantly, they cannot be a convicted felon or deemed incompetent by a court in any way.
To become a guardian, the individual must file a petition for guardianship. There will be a full audit of the person’s capabilities, home, and finances.
How Kinship Guardianship Works
While a parent is still the preferred caregiver for a child in the state of New Mexico, the court may decide they are unwilling or unable to provide care. It is in these cases that someone may want to apply to become the guardian.
Guardianship can be temporary or permanent, depending on the situation. It’s important to note that there are times when legal guardianship could be decided by the Uniform Probate Code or the Children’s Code (which New Mexico is currently seeking to re-evaluate). Typically, with these circumstances, a potential guardian will still have to go through the vetting process.
Help with Legal Guardianship
Sutherland Law Firm is here to help you navigate the paperwork and laws surrounding guardianship in New Mexico. Please contact us with any questions you have–we are here to help!