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New Mexico Adoption Laws

Adoption can be a happy time in the life of the newly expanded family. But if you’re considering adoption, you may have noticed how the adoption process can be complicated. Each state regulates who can adopt, who can be adopted, and other requirements for adoption. This is a brief introduction to adoption laws in New Mexico.

The following table details the main adoption laws in New Mexico.

Code Sections New Mexico Statutes Chapter 32A: Children’s Code, Article 5: Adoptions and Chapter 40: Domestic Affairs, Article 14: Adult Adoptions
Who Can Be Adopted Any child or any adult can be adopted, if he or she consents when consent is required.
Who Can Adopt Any individual approved by the court as a suitable adoptive parent can adopt. If the person petitioning to adopt is married, his or her spouse must also join the adoption petition, unless he or she is the natural parent of the adoptee or he or she is legally separated or otherwise excused from joining by court.

Non-residents can adopt in New Mexico if the adoptee is a resident or was born in the state, is less than 6 months old, and was placed by the state agency or an adoption agency licensed in New Mexico.
Consent of Adopted Child Any child or adult who is at least 14 years old and has the mental capacity to give consent must consent to being adopted. The consent must be in writing and explained in the first language of the consenting person (when not English).

Also, the adoptee’s mother, presumed or acknowledged father, and proposed adoptive parent(s) must consent to the adoption, relinquish parental rights or have had parental rights terminated. Also, for Native American children the “Indian custodian” must consent, as required by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978.
LGBT Adoptions New Mexico law does permit gay, lesbian, or transgender individuals or couples to adopt. There’s also no legal prohibition to adoption of one same-sex partner’s child, such as a stepparent adoption.
Home Residency New Mexico law requires the adoption petition to be filed within 60 days of placement, if the child is less than a year old when placed. For older minor adoptees, the petition must be filed within 120 days. Extensions up to an additional 180 days are available upon timely request.
State Agency The New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department is the state agency involved in adoption of minors who are in foster care.
State Court Child adoptions are heard by the local Children’s Court Division. Adult adoptions are handled by the local district court.
Statute of Limitations The time period in which a lawsuit can be brought is called the “statute of limitations.” A person must challenge the adoption for fraud or other legality problems within one year. However, if a Native American child is involved, ICWA prevails and that federal law doesn’t have a limit to when the adoption can be challenged if ICWA was violated.

If you’re ready to adopt, you may want to contact an experienced New Mexico adoption lawyer to make sure you understand your options and to address your unique situation, from stepparent to international adoption.

Note: State laws are revised regularly, so please contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these adoption laws.

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