In some child custody cases, third parties become involved as they too have worries about the welfare of a couple’s child or children. Many times, this third party is a grandparent or grandparents who feel that their grandchildren are better off under their care. New Mexico child custody law allows for the grandparents to plead their case as a third party to the children in question, though their case must be a compelling one. In most states and in cases where one or both parents are still alive, it is widely favored to award custody to a living parent. Sometimes, this doesn’t work out.
When Would Child Custody Law Award Custody to Grandparents?
Family relationships can be strained and tense, and there may come a time in a family’s life where grandparents feel that they could better facilitate the role of raising a child instead of the child’s own parents. This is not ideal, but grandparents do play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren and can prove themselves to be the better placement option for a child. New Mexico child custody law does grant them the right to petition for custody of a grandchild.
Grandparents may petition for custody of a grandchild if:
- There is a history or suspicion of abuse within the parents’ home(s)
- One or both parents are unable or unwilling to take custody of the child
- Both parents are considered unfit for placing a child with
- Drug or alcohol abuse takes place within the child’s home
Clearly, grandparents play an essential role as caregivers throughout the lives of their grandchildren regardless of their family’s unique circumstances. And when the situation calls for the involvement of a third party, they’re often willing to step up and fulfill the role as full-time guardian. If they have previously been caring for the child at their home, it increases the likelihood of them being awarded custody of the child.
If other family members have also petitioned for custody, each third party will be evaluated for their ability to care for their young relative. A grandparent’s age, health and financial circumstances will be looked into with great care. Additionally, the courts will consider which person the child wants to live with. This is especially true in the cases of older children who are more capable of making such an important decision for themselves.
The Grandparent Visitation Privileges Act
Visitation rights are another often essential part of the custody-granting process, and grandparents aren’t exempt from it either. Like one parent can try to withhold visitation with their child from the other parent, parents can similarly restrict or forbid the grandparent’s ability to visit with their grandchild. This can be challenging, especially since grandparents in New Mexico do not have any guaranteed rights to visitation with their grandchildren.
In cases where they feel that they are being unjustly separated from the child, grandparents may petition the courts under the Grandparent Visitation Privileges Act. This most commonly happens as a part of one of these three scenarios:
- The parents are going through a divorce, are separating or are having paternity issues
- When one or both of the child’s parents have died
- When the grandchild has lived with the grandparent(s) for a period of six months or longer
In the event of a child living without the supervision of the parents, with their grandparents for a period of 90 days or longer, they may petition for guardianship under New Mexico child custody law. The Kinship-Guardianship Act makes this possible.