Father’s Rights In New Mexico


When it comes to father’s rights in New Mexico, there are some misconceptions when it comes to custody and visitation. Most fathers believe that New Mexico is a “Women’s Rights State”, basically saying that the courts will favor the mother when it comes to the custody of children. In the following paragraphs, we hope to dispel any kind of notions about the rights of fathers in New Mexico.

Are Judges More Likely to Favor the Mother in New Mexico?


The short answer is no. The State of New Mexico does guarantee that the rights of both mothers and fathers are protected, regardless of what is going on. Now, the big thing to be aware of is that biases do still exist in the court systems of New Mexico. The first thing to be aware of, as a father in New Mexico is that even though mothers and fathers are treated equally under the law does not guarantee that you will have the same custody as the mother of your children. There are a lot of factors that are considered when determining the best outcome for the child. The following list included the factors that are considered when determining custody and timesharing:

  1. How active have you been in the child’s life? This is typically the first thing that a family court judge will look at. If you, as the father, have not been involved in the child’s life and are attempting to get full custody, they most likely will side with the mom in that case.

  2. If the mother does have primary custody, are you making the appropriate contributions to safeguard your child and their future? When it comes to child support and making contributions to supporting your child, family law judges take that extremely seriously. If you have been ordered by the court to make child support payments and have neglected to do so and you attempt to go forward with obtaining full custody, they will bring this up to you and determine why it has not been paid. 

  3. What is the current timesharing agreement? In most cases, when fathers attempt to get full custody there is already a timesharing agreement in place. For some parents, it is a 50/50 split and for others, it may only be 60/40. It all depends on what was determined at the time the agreement was made and what the best interests of the child were. 

Now, just because you and the mother of your child have a 50/50 timesharing agreement does not mean the courts will award the same agreement to you guys. A lot of family law judges do still believe in an older court precedent called “The Tender Year’s Doctrine”. That basically states that children under the age of three are better off to be with the mother during what is considered the “formative years” which is when a lot of development takes place for children. 

Most Important Steps to Ensure a Fair Custody or Timesharing Agreement

While both fathers and mothers do have the same rights that are protected by the law in New Mexico, that does not automatically guarantee an equal timeshare or custody agreement, nor is it required. Due to the “Tender Year’s Doctrine”, there are a lot of misconceptions that take place in the courts today. Although the principle was abolished, it does still carry some momentum in the courts today. A lot of judges do believe that it is best for the children to be with their mother, especially if they are under the age of three. This does unfortunately feel like the courts are biased against fathers and in some ways, it is true. There are some biases against fathers, but the best thing you can do to dispel those biases in your case is to be an active and present father in your childrens’ lives and have an active role, even if it is just as simple as dropping them off and picking them up from school. The more active you are and the most steady your influence is on them, the better for you because you can show that you have been a constant in their lives and that may lead to a more equal and positive resolution when it comes to your custody or timesharing agreement.

Anthony Spratley
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Experienced Divorce, Child Custody, and Guardianship Lawyer Serving Albuquerque and Beyond