This post is the second in a series on paternity, child custody, and child visitation in New Mexico. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, I recommend you do before continuing.

Acknowledgment of paternity (continued)

To complete this form, both parents will have to swear to the verisimilitude of the stated paternity in the presence of a notary public.

What if the parents disagree about the child’s paternity?

If the parties don’t agree about who the child’s true father is, then a paternity case begins.

Father and child holding hands. Child custody in New Mexico

To start, a paternity petition must be filed. This petition may be filed by a mother against a man who denies fathering the child, by a father when the child’s mother refuses to recognize his paternity rights, by the child’s guardian, or by the department of social services if the child is receiving or the mother has applied for state assistance.

Next, the mother, child, and alleged father will all have to take a DNA test. If the alleged father refuses to submit to a DNA test, then it is possible he may be legally recognized as the father due to his lack of cooperation.

Child custody

After paternity has been established or confirmed, then the case can move on. To better understand child custody in New Mexico, it’s important to understand the difference between physical custody and legal custody of a child.

Physical custody vs. legal custody

Legal custody is the responsibility for making decisions on behalf of the child. This includes things like where the child goes to school, what religion they are raised in, which doctors they see, and more. During marriage, parents share legal custody. When parents divorce, the court assumes it will be best for the child if they continue to make these important decisions together. This is called joint legal custody.

Check back soon for Child custody and child visitation issues in New Mexico – Part 3. In the meantime, check out our page on child custody issues in New Mexico.