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Grandparents and Child Custody Part One
What is "The Best Interests of the Child" Standard?
How to Find the Right Lawyer
What is a Abuse and Neglect Custody Hearing?

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Grandparents and Child Custody Part One


Grandparents and Child Custody Part 1

The Holidays seem to bring out the questions in people and a couple of folks have asked about their rights as grandparents when it comes to physical custody of their grandchildren. Sometimes children are left with grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other family members by the child’s parent for one reason or another. And usually this is done in the best interests of the child or children.  What do you do when a weekend becomes six months and mom or dad are nowhere in sight?

What is "The Best Interests of the Child" Standard?


The Best Interests of the Child Standard

The underlying goal for any children’s court judge or family court judge is to determine what’s in the best interest of the child or children. They do this in every child custody decision, every child support determination, and in CYFD abuse and neglect cases. Parents believe their ideas, goals, and plans are in their child’s best interests. Lawyers draft motions and advocate for what they believe is in the best interests of child-client or in the best interests of their clients’ children.

What is a Abuse and Neglect Custody Hearing?

I represent many people including children in child abuse and neglect cases. These cases have increased dramatically in recent years and the television news and newspapers publicize many of these cases. Because these cases are very unique in terms of the law and rules governing them, most people simply are not familiar with the nuances of the law including most lawyers.
The custody hearing which is the first legal proceeding held at the initiation of the abuse and neglect case. This hearing must be held within ten days of CYFD filing an ex parte order and taking a child or children into custody.

Minors and Emancipation

This week I had a young client ask me the details of emancipation which means basically becoming an "adult" in the eyes of the law. As everyone knows, the law of majority in New Mexico is 18. Yet there are some circumstances in which a teen can become a legal adult before reaching their 18th birthday. Here's what New Mexico law says:
 
A child can become emancipated once the child reaches the age of 16 and meets one of the following requirements: validly married, or on active military duty, or been declared "emancipated" by the district court.

Tips for Non-Custodial Parents and Infant Visitation

Tips for Non-Custodial Parents and Infant Visitation
 
Almost all parents want as much time with their children as possible. Many times, potential clients approach me wanting overnight visits with their very young children. I remind people that under the law, Courts seek to determine what's in the best interests of the child. Judge's look to psychologists and clinicians to help them determine the best custody arrangements. The age of the child is fundamentally important. Courts are very aware of children's attachment and nurturing needs.

Father Doesn't Have to Pay Child Support after Terminating His Parental Rights

 
This Newsflash comes directly from the Albuquerque Journal. The link is below. This is an important news story as it changes a major understanding of the law.
 
Court: Father doesn’t have to pay child support
 
Scott Sandlin / Journal Staff Writer
 
His parental rights were terminated in 1990 Doña Ana caseA man whose parental rights were terminated after allegations of mental and physical abuse does not have to pay more than $117,000 in court-ordered child support for his two children, the state Court of Appeals has ruled.Judge Michael Bustamante, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, concluded termination of parental rights severs the parent-child relationship completely – including the support obligation.The ruling came in the case of a Doña Ana County couple who married in 1984 and divorced in 1990. The father was ordered to pay $600 a month in child support payments for the couple’s two children.Three years later, the mother sought to terminate her ex-husband’s parental rights based on allegations of mental and physical abuse. The father didn’t show up for the hearing, and the district judge noted that the children had “witnessed horrific violence and mayhem to those they love.”The judge also noted the father had kidnapped the children and taken them to Texas for 10 months in 1990 without letting them have any contact with the mother during that period.The District Court said the children would not be damaged if they never had contact with the father again and granted the termination request. The November 1993 termination order made no mention of child support.The mother applied for aid from the state Human Services Department. HSD collected some $7,620 from the father and the mother continued to press for unpaid child support.In 2010, District Judge Michael Murphy of Las Cruces ordered the father to pay $117,502 in past due child support plus interest, for a 14-year period from 1994 through September 2010.The father appealed and the Appeals Court reversed Murphy’s order, noting that the state statute dealing with termination of parental rights was far from clear.The mother argued the law dealt with the rights of the parent, not a parent’s duties toward a child, so a child’s “inherent right to support from the parent persists” even after parental rights are ended.The father argued that if the Legislature had intended a continuing duty of child support, it would have explicitly said so.The Appeals Court said that revisions to adoption law, made part of the Children’s Code in significant 1985 revisions, removed reference to a parent’s “duties and obligations” post-termination.“The question is whether the changes in language … reveal a legislative intent to continue support obligations after termination of parental rights. We conclude that they do not,” the Appeals Court said.“Such a significant change,” it said, “would seemingly require definitive action by the Legislature.”Bustamante’s opinion says termination of rights is meant to end the connection forever.“The Legislature had no intent to change the fundamental nature and effect of an order terminating rights when it amended the Children’s Code in 1985,” the ruling said. “The fundamental and terrible act of severing the parent-child relationship cuts off all connection between them except as specifically excepted by the Legislature.”The court said its analysis looked at historical changes in laws “that reflect an evolution of attitudes toward the parent-child relationship and the problems posed by abused, neglected and delinquent children.”Judges Cynthia Fry and Michael E. Vigil joined in the opinion, which reverses the lower court.

Top Ten Divorce, Custody, Child Support Myths

 
Ten Divorce, Custody, and Child Support Myths
 
1.It is OK to deny visitation if the other parent does not pay child support.
 
False. This situation comes up when the noncustodial parent falls behind in paying child support, and the custodial parent decides that the delinquency justifies shutting the other parent out of the children's lives. In the eyes oft he Court, child support and child visitation are separate issues. Child support is not payment for the privilege of visitation.

Termination of Parental Rights Part II

 
Termination is involuntary—the Courts take awaysomeone’s parental rights despite that person’s objection. However the reasoning the Courts use is very similar. You can see how the distinction disintegrates in reality. This is because whether termination o r relinquishment, the Courts look for only two circumstances whereupon parental rights can be divested: abuse and neglect cases and private adoption.
 
The first instance is typically handled by the Department of Child Youth and Families.

Termination of Parental Rights Part 1

 
How does one terminate or relinquish parental rights in New Mexico? This is a challenging question because in New Mexico, often times Courts are reluctant to relinquish or terminate parental rights.
 
Parental rights are considered fundamental rights. The following is written from the perspective of a mother seeking to terminate an absentee biological father's parental rights. I'm often asked this very question.
 
There is a presumption that a child needs his or her parents as well as the financial security of two parents and only in rare circumstances will parental rights be totally abolished.

Happy Thanksgiving

Even in tough times, we all are called to take a few moments and inventory our lives. Despite whatever challenges we are facing, all of us have at least something to be thankful for. 

Have a Happy and drama-free Thanksgiving Weekend!
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