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What does it mean for parents to share joint custody?

When parents in New Mexico decide to end their relationship, they naturally want to stay involved in their child's life. After all, even though their relationship with the child's other parent did not last, they still want to have a meaningful relationship with their child. This includes not just the amount of time they will spend with their child, but also what parenting rights they will have with regards to their child.

In New Mexico, courts in general start with the assumption that it is in the best interests of the child for the child's parents to share joint custody. Joint custody includes the right to make major life decisions on behalf of the child. These include where the child will go to school, who the child's medical care providers will be and what kind of extracurricular activities the child will be involved in.

However, just because parents share joint custody does not necessarily mean they will each have the child in their care exactly 50 percent of the time. Other physical custody and visitation schedules may be more appropriate for the child. Sometimes experts such as psychologists or counselors will provide their professional opinion about what physical custody and visitation schedule would be in the child's best interests.

If a parent in New Mexico does not want to share joint custody with the child's other parent, then he or she needs to move the court to order the parents to go through Court Clinic services or mediation. Certain forms will need to be completed before a parent can enter into Court Clinic services or mediation. That being said, sometimes a judge can make the process automatic.

As you can see, while sometimes joint custody is in the best interests of the child, this assumption can be challenged. It is also to keep in mind that a parenting time schedule may not be 50/50 even if joint custody is ordered. Parents in New Mexico who have further questions about how joint custody will affect them and their child may want to seek legal advice.

Source: New Mexico Courts, "Establishing Parentage, Custody, or Child Support," Accessed May 8, 2017

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