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How Travel Affects Children’s Custody in New Mexico

According to Statista, about three per 1,000 inhabitants went through a divorce in New Mexico in 2015. Many of these involved households with children. Some also featured immigrant parents.

The American Immigration Council revealed that 10% of the residents came from another country. Meanwhile, around 11% were born in the United States but with either parent an immigrant.

This situation makes divorce complicated, mainly when couples discuss child custody. The mom, for example, might prefer to live in a country where they are born. A dad might want to bring their children for overseas travel.

Because of this, parents need to work with not only divorce attorneys but also family lawyers. They can also benefit from learning more about custody works in the state.

New Mexico Is a Shared-Custody State

During custody proceedings, parents will hear these terms:

  • Shared custody
  • Mother state
  • Physical custody
  • Time-sharing
  • Legal custody

They sound alike, but they don’t have the same meanings. Custody falls into two categories: physical and legal.

Physical custody determines where the child lives, but the parent might have legal custody. This one gives higher authority to decide on the child’s behalf for many aspects of their well-being. These include healthcare, education, and even religion.

Custody decisions can be according to the laws of the state. Some grant custody often to mothers than to fathers. Most, though, are shared-custody states. New Mexico is one of them.

In shared custody, both parents can have rights and responsibilities to the child. The primary goal is to ensure that moms and dads remain present in their kids’ lives, especially while they are growing up.

Note, though, the court always decides based on the best interest of the child. Shared custody doesn’t imply a 50-50 time-sharing. Both can still share custody, but one parent might have only visitation rights for many reasons. For example, the parent might already live in another state or travel regularly because of work.

couple with a divorce lawyer and their child

Other Rules Can Settle Disputes

Sometimes custody arrangements result in disputes. One reason is interstate or overseas travel. If the court grants shared custody, then a parent who wants to bring their kid to another state or country needs to ask permission. If they don’t, the other parent can sue for kidnapping or abduction.

For their defense, the parent who brought their child somewhere else can also answer their dispute in court. In this situation, other rules come into play.

1. Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA)

It is a federal law enacted in 1980 that seeks to settle disputes on conflicts on jurisdictions. It aims to answer, “Where should the child be?” This act helps the court decide by enumerating the jurisdictional bases according to significance:

  • Home state, where the child lived for at least six months before the disputes began
  • Significant connection, where the child might have ties if they don’t have a home state
  • Emergency, where the kid can go to if they experience abuse or abandonment
  • Vacuum, which applies when other jurisdictional bases are nonexistent

2. Hague Abduction Convention

It is a treaty in which the United States is a participant. Its objective is to protect kids from the devastating effects of international abduction or kidnapping, which a parent might commit unknowingly or deliberately.

Marriage can end, but parenting shouldn’t. Even if the couples are not in good terms, they need to step up for the children. That includes making custody arrangements fair and harmonious for everyone.

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