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Let’s Talk Grandparents Rights – Part 1

Grandparents Rights in New Mexico

Typically, when someone is seeking child custody or visitation in New Mexico, that person is either a biological or adopted parent. However, in some cases, a grandparent (or multiple grandparents) may also have legal grounds to petition the state for custody or visitation. In this article, we’ll discuss laws that apply to grandparents rights in New Mexico and how courts and judges make decisions based on those laws.

Grandpa helping his grandson with homework at the kitchen table. Grandparents rights.

NM Statute 40-9-2

Grandparents rights in New Mexico are regulated by NM Statute 40-9-2. One of the most important parts of this law is that it lays out cases where grandparents have legal standing to petition for visitation or custody. These cases are as follows:

  • If the grandchild’s parents are divorced
  • If one or both of the grandchild’s parents are deceased
  • If the grandchild lived with the grandparent for at least 3 months while younger than 6 years old or for 6 months while older than six years old.
  • If the grandchild was legally adopted by a relative, stepparent, person designated in the will of a deceased parent, or a person who sponsored the child at a baptism or other religious ceremony.

Statute 40-9-2 also sets out additional provisions on grandparents rights. If you’d like to read it, you can check out the full text here.

Limits of grandparents rights

Grandparents rights are neither intended nor allowed to interfere with parents’ right to raise their children as they see fit. For this reason, the burden of proof rests with the grandparents – they must demonstrate to the judge why visitation with or custody over their grandchild is in the child’s best interests.

Check back soon for Let’s Talk Grandparents Rights – Part 2! In part 2, we’ll discuss the “best interests of the child” as a legal concept and what factors influence a court’s decision in these cases.