N.M. Stat. § 32A-5-36

New Mexico Statutes

Chapter 32A. Children's Code

Article 5. Adoption Act


§ 32A-5-36. Adjudication; disposition; decree of adoption


A. The court shall conduct hearings on the petition for adoption so as to determine the rights of the parties in a manner that protects confidentiality. The petitioner and the adoptee shall attend the hearing unless the court for good cause waives a party's appearance. Good cause may include burdensome travel requirements.


B. The petitioner shall file all documents required pursuant to the Adoption Act and serve the department with copies of the documents simultaneously with the request for hearing on the petition for adoption.


C. If any person who claims to be the biological father of the adoptee has appeared before the court and filed a written petition or response seeking custody and assuming financial responsibility of the adoptee, the court shall hear evidence as to the merits of the petition. If the court determines by a preponderance of the evidence that the person is not the biological father of the adoptee or that the child was conceived through an act of rape or incest, the petition shall be dismissed and the person shall no longer be a party to the adoption. If the court determines that the person is the biological father of the adoptee, the court shall further determine whether the person qualifies as a presumed or acknowledged father whose consent is necessary for adoption, pursuant to Section 32A-5-17 NMSA 1978. If the court determines that the person is the biological father, but does not qualify as a presumed or acknowledged father, the court shall adjudicate the person's rights pursuant to the provisions of the Adoption Act.


D. If the mother or father of the adoptee has appeared before the court and filed a written petition that alleges the invalidity of the mother's or father's own consent or relinquishment for adoption previously filed in the adoption proceeding, the court shall hear evidence as to the merits of the petition. If the court determines that the allegations have not been proved by a preponderance of the evidence, the petition shall be dismissed. If the court determines that the allegations of the petition are true, the consent or relinquishment for adoption shall be held invalid, and the court shall determine, in the best interests of the adoptee, the person who shall have custody of the child.


E. The petitioner shall present and prove each allegation set forth in the petition for adoption by clear and convincing evidence.


F. The court shall grant a decree of adoption if it finds that the petitioner has proved by clear and convincing evidence that:


(1) the court has jurisdiction to enter a decree of adoption affecting the adoptee;


(2) the adoptee has been placed with the petitioner for a period of ninety days if the adoptee is under the age of one year at the time of placement or for a period of one hundred eighty days if the adoptee is one year of age or older at the time of placement, unless, for good cause shown, the requirement is waived by the court;


(3) all necessary consents, relinquishments, terminations or waivers have been obtained;


(4) the post-placement report required by Section 32A-5-31 NMSA 1978 has been filed with the court;


(5) service of the petition for adoption has been made or dispensed with as to all persons entitled to notice pursuant to provisions of Section 32A-5-27 NMSA 1978;


(6) at least ninety days have passed since the filing of the petition for adoption, except the court may shorten or waive this period of time in cases in which the child is being adopted by a stepparent, a relative or a person named in the child's deceased parent's will pursuant to provisions of Section 32A-5-12 NMSA 1978;


(7) the petitioner is a suitable adoptive parent and the best interests of the adoptee are served by the adoption;


(8) if visitation between the biological family and the adoptee is contemplated, that the visitation is in the child's best interests;


(9) if the adoptee is foreign-born, the child is legally free for adoption and a certificate issued by the United States secretary of state that certifies the adoption as a convention adoption has been filed with the court;


(10) the results of the criminal records check required pursuant to provisions of the Adoption Act have been received and considered;


(11) if the adoptee is an Indian child, the requirements set forth in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 [FN1] have been met;


(12) when the child is an Indian child, the placement preferences set forth in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 or the placement preferences of the appropriate Indian tribes have been followed or, if not followed, good cause for noncompliance has been clearly stated and supported, as required by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and provision has been made to ensure that the Indian child's cultural ties to the Indian child's tribe are protected and fostered; and


(13) if the adoption involves the interstate placement of the adoptee, the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children have been met.


G. In addition to the findings required by Subsection F of this section, the court in any decree of adoption shall make findings with respect to each allegation of the petition.


H. If the court determines that any of the requirements for a decree of adoption pursuant to provisions of Subsections E and F of this section have not been met or that the adoption is not in the best interests of the adoptee, the court shall deny the petition and determine, in the best interests of the adoptee, the person who shall have custody of the child.


I. The decree of adoption shall include the new name of the adoptee and shall not include any other name by which the adoptee has been known or the names of the former parents. The decree of adoption shall order that from the date of the decree, the adoptee shall be the child of the petitioner and accorded the status set forth in Section 32A-5-37 NMSA 1978.


J. A decree of adoption shall be entered within six months of the filing of the petition if the adoptee is under the age of one year at the time of placement or twelve months if the adoptee is one year of age or older at the time of placement, except that the time may be extended by the court upon request of any of the parties or upon the court's own motion for good cause shown.


K. A decree of adoption may not be attacked upon the expiration of one year from the entry of the decree; provided, however, that in any adoption involving an Indian child, the Indian child's parent or Indian custodian may petition the court pursuant to the provisions of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 to invalidate the adoption.


L. In any adoption involving an Indian child, the clerk of the court shall provide the secretary of the interior with a copy of any decree of adoption or adoptive placement order and other information as required by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.


L. 1993, Ch. 77, § 163; L. 1995, Ch. 206, § 42, eff. July 1, 1995; L. 2003, Ch. 294, § 5, eff. July 1, 2003; L. 2003, Ch. 321, § 5, eff. July 1, 2003.


[FN1] 25 U.S.C.A. § 1901 et seq.

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