Placement of Children With Relatives - New Mexico

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 32A-4-21; 32A-4-9; 40-10B-3

Prior to a dispositional hearing, the court shall direct that a predisposition study and report be submitted in writing to the court by the Children, Youth and Families Department. The report shall include the following information:

  • The efforts the department has made to identify and locate all grandparents and other relatives and to conduct home studies on any appropriate relative expressing an interest in providing care for the child
  • Whether the child has a family member who is qualified to care for the child

In any foster care or preadoptive placement of an Indian child, a preference shall be given, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, to a placement with the following:

  • A member of the Indian child's extended family
  • A foster care home licensed, approved, and specified by the Indian child's Tribe
  • An Indian foster care home licensed or approved by an authorized non-Indian licensing authority
  • An institution for children approved by the Indian child's Tribe or operated by an Indian organization that has a program suitable to meet the Indian child's needs

When the placement preferences are not followed or if the Indian child is placed in an institution, a plan shall be developed to ensure that the Indian child's cultural ties are protected and fostered.

For the Kinship Guardianship Act, the following terms apply:

  • The term 'kinship' means the relationship that exists between a child and a relative of the child, a godparent, a member of the child's Tribe or clan, or an adult with whom the child has a significant bond.
  • The term 'relative' means an individual related to a child as a spouse, parent, stepparent, sibling, stepsibling, half-sibling, a parent's sibling and their adult children, first cousin, any person denoted by the prefix 'grand' or 'great,' or the spouse or former spouse of the persons specified.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 32A-4-31; 40-10B-8; Admin. Code §

In proceedings for permanent guardianship, the court shall give primary consideration to the physical, mental, and emotional welfare and needs of the child.

A guardian may be appointed pursuant to the Kinship Guardianship Act only if one of the following is true:

  • A parent of the child is living and has consented in writing to the appointment of a guardian and the consent has not been withdrawn.
  • A parent of the child is living, but all parental rights regarding the child have been terminated or suspended by prior court order.
  • The child has resided with the petitioner without the parent for a period of 90 days or more, and the parent having legal custody of the child is currently unwilling or unable to provide adequate care, maintenance, and supervision for the child or there are extraordinary circumstances.
  • No guardian of the child is currently appointed.

In regulation: Regulations regarding background checks do not apply to foster grandparent volunteers or relative care providers who are not otherwise required to be licensed or registered.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-22

At the conclusion of the dispositional hearing, the court shall make and include in the dispositional judgment its findings on whether reasonable efforts were made by the department to place siblings in custody together, unless such joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings in custody, and whether any siblings not jointly placed have been provided reasonable visiting rights or other ongoing interaction, unless such visits or other ongoing interaction would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings.

The court may order reasonable visits between a child placed in the custody of the department and the child's siblings or any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests if the court finds the visits to be in the child's best interests.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-12

Any relative within the fifth degree of relation to the child or that relative's spouse may seek to adopt the child.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 32A-5-14; 32A-5-12; 32A-5-14.1

The child must have lived with the relative or the relative's spouse for at least 1 year prior to the filing of the petition.

Unless directed by the court, a preplacement study is not required in cases in which a child is being adopted by a stepparent, relative, or person named in the child's deceased parent's will.

Nationwide criminal history record checks shall be conducted on all prospective foster or adoptive parents and other adult relatives and nonrelatives residing in the prospective foster or adoptive parent's household.