Parental Custody Rights to a Newborn Child in Albuquerque, New Mexico

By Cindy Chung

Couple with newborn

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Although births are often joyous events, some births also create legal issues if parents need to establish their rights. Parental rights can vary depending on whether or not the parents are married at the time of the child's birth. Accordingly, parents should understand the rights relevant to their family's circumstances. Someone with parental rights can enforce those rights by requesting a court order for custody or visitation with the newborn through the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Rights of Married Parents

When married parents have a newborn together in Albuquerque, state laws automatically give parental rights to both parents. The Stanford Public Health Office, which issues birth certificates in Albuquerque, will include both parents' names on the baby's birth record. Any parent with parental rights can request a court order for custody in the Domestic Relations division of the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico, which handles Albuquerque cases. Although a mother or father with parental rights can request a court order for custody through a case for parentage or divorce, state law does not guarantee a specific type of custody. The court may grant sole custody, joint custody or visitation after reviewing the list of factors included in state law to determine the baby's best interests.

Rights of Unmarried Mother

An unmarried mother automatically has parental rights at the birth of her child. The state does not automatically acknowledge the newborn's father, however, and the unmarried mother must take additional steps regarding paternity. The man identified according to New Mexico paternity laws has parental rights as the child's legal father. An unmarried mother can establish her baby's paternity by filing a parentage case with the Second Judicial District Court if the father declines to participate voluntarily. During the parentage case, she can request a court order explaining parental custody rights, if any, of the child's father. A mother can also request paternity and child support help through the state Child Support Enforcement Division.

Rights of Unmarried Father

An unmarried father should know his rights under the paternity laws of New Mexico. When an unmarried woman gives birth in Albuquerque, the newborn's father must establish the child's paternity before he has parental rights to the child. A New Mexico father can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form to file with the state's Bureau of Vital Statistics. If the mother does not dispute the paternity form, the bureau will include the father's name on the child's birth certificate. If a parent disputes the paternity form, either parent may open a parentage case in the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico. After establishing paternity, the father can request custody rights through the Second Judicial District Court.

Giving Up Parental Custody Rights

If birth parents have chosen to give up their parental custody rights and allow the adoption of their newborn, they must give consent to the adoption. Albuquerque families must follow state laws regarding adoption consents. In New Mexico, each parent with legal rights must consent before an adoption can happen. If the baby is born to married parents, both parents generally must consent. If the parents are unmarried, the birth mother must consent — the birth father must also consent if he has acknowledged the child's paternity. A birth parent loses the right to consent regarding adoption, however, if the parent has abandoned the child or a New Mexico court has already terminated the parent's rights.