Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - New Mexico

Date: July 2021

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 32A-4-28; 32A-4-2

The court shall terminate parental rights when any of the following apply:

  • The child has been abandoned.
  • The child has been neglected or abused, and the court finds that the conditions and causes of the neglect and abuse are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future despite reasonable efforts to assist the parent in adjusting the conditions that render the parent unable to properly care for the child.
  • The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances.
  • The child has been placed in the care of others, including care by other relatives, either by a court order or otherwise, and the following conditions exist:
    • The child has lived in the home of others for an extended period of time.
    • The parent-child relationship has disintegrated.
    • A psychological parent-child relationship has developed between the substitute family and the child.
    • If the court deems the child of sufficient capacity to express a preference, the child no longer prefers to live with the natural parent.
    • The substitute family desires to adopt the child.

'Aggravated circumstances' include circumstances in which the parent has done any of the following:

  • Attempted, conspired to cause, or caused great bodily harm to the child or great bodily harm or death to the child's sibling
  • Attempted, conspired to cause, or caused great bodily harm or death to another parent, guardian, or custodian of the child
  • Attempted, conspired to subject, or subjected the child to torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse
  • Had his or her parental rights over a sibling of the child terminated involuntarily

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-29

The Children, Youth and Families Department shall file a motion to terminate parental rights when a child has been in the custody of the department for not less than 15 of the previous 22 months unless the following apply:

  • A parent has made substantial progress toward eliminating the problem that caused the child's placement in foster care, it is likely that the child will be able to safely return to the parent's home within 3 months, and the child's return to the parent's home will be in the child's best interests.
  • The child has a close and positive relationship with a parent, and a permanency plan that does not include termination of parental rights will provide the most secure and appropriate placement for the child.
  • The child is age 14 or older, is firmly opposed to termination of parental rights, and is likely to disrupt an attempt to place him or her with an adoptive family.
  • A parent is terminally ill but in remission and does not want his or her parental rights to be terminated, and the parent has designated a guardian for his or her child.
  • The child is not capable of functioning if placed in a family setting. In such a case, the court shall reevaluate the status of the child every 90 days unless there is a final court determination that the child cannot be placed in a family setting.
  • Grounds do not exist for termination of parental rights.
  • The child is an unaccompanied, refugee minor, and the situation regarding the child involves international legal issues or compelling foreign policy issues.
  • Adoption is not an appropriate plan for the child.
  • The parent's incarceration or participation in a court-ordered residential substance abuse treatment program constitutes the primary factor in the child's placement in substitute care, and termination of parental rights is not in the child's best interests.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.