When it comes to guardianship in the state of New Mexico, there are a couple of things that do need to be kept in mind when pursuing guardianship regardless of your relation to the child or children in question. The first thing to be aware of is that there a different types of guardianship in the state of New Mexico. The second thing to keep in mind is that you are able to request child support payments, as a guardian in New Mexico. In the following paragraphs, we’ll dive headfirst into types of guardianship, grandparents’ rights and child support payments where they are applicable. 


Types of Guardianship in New Mexico

In the state of New Mexico, we recognize three types of guardianship legal, informal, and temporary. Now, with all three, there are different restrictions that are applicable to the individual situation and will be determined by the courts if that is something you and your family go through. 


Temporary guardianship: This is where parents turn over guardianship to a trusted individual, whether it is a family member or a family friend. This is a simple solution, when in need of temporary arrangements for your child to be cared for. The most important thing with this arrangement is that the appropriate paperwork is filed to protect your relationship with your child. 


Informal Guardianship: This is a type of guardianship arrangement in which the guardian has limited or no legal rights over the child involved. Unless the arrangement is court-ordered, the parents are able to remove the child from the guardian’s care at any time. 


Formal or Legal Guardianship: This is when a guardian is legally responsible for a child, which means that the guardian can make decisions such as medical care, education, etc. This type of guardianship is not able to be revoked by the parents of the child. 


Grandparents Rights in New Mexico

While grandparent visitation is considered a privilege, as opposed to a right in New Mexico there are special circumstances that do warrant the grandparents getting visitation rights through the court system. Cases for grandparent visitation rights in New Mexico most commonly happen, when there is a strong pre-existing relationship between the child in question and the grandparents, prior to the death or divorce of the child’s parents. In all grandparent visitation cases, the court will decide visitation based on what is best for the child in question. In many cases, the issue of grandparent visitation will go to a mediator or grandparents' rights attorney who attempts to resolve the issue and come to an agreement with the parents. If it does go to court, a family law judge looks at the following to determine visitation:

  1. Why are the parents objecting to grandparent visitation?

  2. The previous relationship between the grandparent and child.

  3. All visitation agreements are already in place. 

  4. If there is a family history of abuse.

  5. If you were the child’s caretaker for a significant length of time.


How Petitioning for Custody Works

If you were previously in charge of the child’s care, after the parents were deemed unfit, you may be able to present your case for grandparent custody rights through the courts with a guardianship petition. Similar to a visitation rights case, the family law judge will look at the previous relationship between you and the child, the death of one parent, or one or both parents being deemed unfit. In the latter situation, you may be given temporary custody or guardianship of your grandchild, depending on what is best for the child based on evaluations done by the courts. If you do need further information or assistance with grandparent custody/visitation, please contact Genus Law Group to assist you with your case.

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