New Mexico Domestic Violence: What You Need to Know


As COVID-19 continues to spread in our communities and bring commercial and professional life to a standstill, many New Mexicans face many new or worsened divorce, custody, and child support issues. One of the most disturbing of these side effects of our new reality is the marked increase in domestic violence that closures and quarantines are causing in our communities.


While staying at home and self-isolating with your family is a great way to stop the spread of the COVID-19 Virus, home can sometimes be the most dangerous place for a person to be if that person suffers from domestic violence and child abuse. It's also a great way to create a tense dynamic that can lead to allegations of abuse or domestic violence. In fact, the New Mexico Domestic Violence Resource Center (DVRC) expects a steep rise in domestic violence during this difficult time. This article will address Domestic Violence and divorce in New Mexico, and what your options are as a victim (especially during the COVID-19 Crisis).


What Victims Need to Know  

Domestic violence can be an incredibly traumatic experience for those involved in the best of times. Under our current restrictions and isolation requirements, it can be even worse. There are always barriers, including finances and access to legal assistance, that can prevent victims of domestic violence from getting the help they need. These are only compounded during the COVID-19 crisis. With many people out of jobs because of businesses closing, these stresses can also lead to more frustration within the home. Isolation can also create perfect conditions for manipulation and control and can further exacerbate abusive behavior. That's why it's important you understand your options. 


If you are experiencing domestic violence, you should call the police immediately—assault, even by a family member is a crime. Get medical attention, ask the medical staff to photograph your injuries, and keep detailed records in the event legal action is necessary. Leave the scene immediately or as soon as possible. This will help you get out of the immediate situation. After that, you can then file a motion for a Temporary Order of Protection or other civil protection orders that can help protect you and your family. However, for the most part, these are short-term solutions. To address the problem in the long term, a divorce with solid custody agreements will likely be your only solution. In addition to being physically painful, emotionally devastating, and illegal, domestic violence greatly impacts the terms of a divorce or child custody arrangement. If you are seeking a divorce from your abusive spouse, it is important that you understand your rights as a victim of domestic violence.


Domestic Violence Laws in New Mexico

The Crimes Against Household Members Act makes domestic violence a crime in New Mexico. Despite the name of the law, it’s not necessary that family members live together for domestic violence to occur. Instead, the law provides that assault or battery against any of the following people is considered to be domestic violence:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Parent, stepparent, or parent-in-law (including former stepparents and in-laws)
  • Grandparent or grandparent-in-law
  • Your child’s other parent if you are dating or have an intimate relationship

More specifically, it's a crime to do any of the following to any of the people described above:

  • Unlawful, intentional touching in a rude, insolent, or angry way
  • Application of force in a rude, insolent, or angry manner
  • Any attempt to commit unlawful, intentional touching or force in a rude, insolent, or angry way
  • Any unlawful act, threat, or menacing conduct that causes one of the people described above to reasonably believe he or she is in imminent danger
  • Strike or assault a household member with a deadly weapon or with intent to commit a felony

What to Do if You’re Hurt by Domestic Violence

In addition to being a crime, domestic violence is terrifying. You may fear for your own safety or the safety of your children, but there are legal actions that you can take to protect yourself and your kids. 

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may seek a protective order, also known as a restraining order, from a New Mexico court. The terms of a protective order vary. In some cases, a protective order may:

  • Require the individual who hurt you to stay a certain distance away from you and your property
  • Require the individual who hurt you to receive counseling
  • Award temporary sole custody of your children to you or another guardian

Once you have a protective order in place, you may contact the police to have the offender arrested if the specific terms of a protective order are violated.


How Domestic Violence May Affect a New Mexico Divorce

A domestic violence arrest or conviction can also impact the dissolution of your marriage and any child custody and visitation arrangements. Domestic violence can, for example:

Be grounds for divorce. These actions can be evidence of cruel and inhumane treatment or incompatibility.

Impact child custody and visitation. The court may decide that custody, unsupervised visitation, and even supervised visitation with a parent who committed domestic violence might not be in the best interests of your children. The custody and visitation order may be written to keep the abusive parent from seeing the kids.

However, domestic violence shouldn't impact an abusive individual's responsibility to pay child support. The duty to provide financial support for minor children continues even if the court orders sole custody to the other guardian and limited or no visitation with the parent who committed the violent acts.

How Genus Law Group Can Help

Divorce and child custody decisions can be challenging even under amicable circumstances. They might be even more problematic when domestic violence is a factor. You should expect that your spouse or your children’s other parent is going to make divorce and child custody difficult. 

Accordingly, we encourage you to speak to our New Mexico domestic violence and family law attorneys as soon as possible. The experienced and compassionate team at Genus Law Group will make sure your rights are protected. We have live associates standing by the chat with you online. Call 505.317.4455 to speak with our experienced Albuquerque domestic violence lawyers today for a confidential case evaluation or click here.
Anthony Spratley
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Experienced Divorce, Child Custody, and Guardianship Lawyer Serving Albuquerque and Beyond