Where to Find Family Court Records In New Mexico
Family Courts in New Mexico are divisions of District Courts that have jurisdiction over suits involving families, interpersonal relationships, and domestic life within the state. Officials of family courts maintain and disseminate records created throughout the history of a family case. These records are public information, and interested public members may obtain them from the Clerk of Court’s Office or an independent service provider. However, documents deemed private or sealed by court order or government statute are exempted.
What Is Family Law In New Mexico?
Family law is a body of rules that defines relationships, rights, and duties of individuals during the formation and dissolution of a marriage. While the law does not exist to dictate how family members will interact, it may authorize or vindicate individuals when they need a binding order to achieve an objective. New Mexico’s family law statutes are found in Chapter 40 (Domestic Affairs) of New Mexico Rules Annotated.
Generally, the statutes govern how family courts and government agencies handle:
- Dissolution of Marriage
- Paternity Actions
- Child Custody & Parenting Plans
- Domestic Relations Mediation
- Violent Relationships
- Statutory Beneficiaries in Wrongful Death Cases
What Are Family Court Cases and Records in New Mexico?
Family court cases are lawsuits that seek legal authority or vindication when spouses, children, or other family members are involved in disputes and are unable to settle. More often than not, these cases are non-criminal, and the district court’s family court division will handle them.
On the other hand, family court records are documents that describe the circumstances surrounding a family case and everything that happened during the proceedings. These documents include filings, attorney briefs, judges’ notes, motions, court transcripts, affidavits, notices, and statements.
Common family court cases in New Mexico involve:
- Custody and visitation
- Child support
- Domestic violence
- Adult adoption
- Kinship guardianship
- Intramarital tort
- Loss of consortium
- Enticement of spouse
- Marital Property and Debt
Are Family Court Cases Public Records In New Mexico?
Yes, the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act directs record custodians to grant public access to non-confidential records during business hours. Family court cases that contain sensitive information on the parties involved and minors are prohibited from public disclosure.
For example, divorce proceedings and documents related to domestic violence cases are made available to the public. However, if these records contain confidential information, the information will be redacted or completely sealed. Conversely, juvenile records and adoption records are not accessible to the public. Only persons named on the record and their legal representatives may access the documents. Other requesters must show good cause and obtain a court order.
How Do I Find Family Court Records In New Mexico?
Finding a family court record in New Mexico begins with identifying the record’s location and custodian of the record. The District Court in New Mexico has general jurisdiction, and the Domestic Relations division of the District Court handles family cases and all documents pertaining to them. Thus, the Clerk’s Office maintains family court records.
Upon identifying the court, the requester must then visit the Clerk’s Office in person during business hours and submit their request. Generally, the Clerk will ask the requester for the necessary information to facilitate the record search. State laws also mandate that the requester pays a non-refundable search fee and cover the cost of copying the record. The requester must also present a government-issued photo ID before the Clerk’s Office processes the request.
The Clerk will decline a request to access sealed family court records unless the requester presents a court order that grants them access to that specific record. However, to obtain such a court order, the requester must convince the judge that they have legal interests in the sealed record.
For mail requests, the requester must enclose a written request with the necessary information to facilitate the search along with a photo ID in a self-addressed stamped envelope. They must also attach a cashier’s check or money order for the applicable fees before the Clerk’s Office will process the request. Generally, the Clerk’s Office charges $0.35 per page for photocopies, $1.50 for certification of a document, and $4.00 to reproduce tape recordings. Nevertheless, individuals must contact the Clerk’s Office before submitting a request, as there may be other specific requirements or procedures. For example, to find a family court record in Santa Fe County, visit or send a mail request to:
Santa Fe County Courthouse
225 Montezuma Avenue, PO. Box 2268
Santa Fe, NM 87504–2268
Phone: (505) 455–8250
How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?
The New Mexico Judiciary maintains an online statewide database for publicly available court records. The requester must provide case information such as the party’s name, date of birth, and filing date to submit a query. Requesters may also query the database by using the case number. Likewise, interested individuals may use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to find family court records online. Requesting records through PACER involves creating an account. The system charges a small fee to perform a search and obtain copies of the record.
Records that are considered public may also be accessible from some third-party websites such as NewMexico.CourtRecords.us. These websites often make searching less complicated, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the person’s record involved, including information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or where the offense occurred.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.
What Is New Mexico Custody Law?
Article 10A of New Mexico Custody Laws defines legal custody and parenting plans regarding a minor if a divorce or legal separation occurs. By default, the state’s custody laws assume that joint custody is in the best interests of a child’s wellbeing. However, suppose a parent seeks sole custody. In that case, the court will consider several factors, including the parent’s capability to make sound decisions concerning the child, how well they can provide for the child and the familial tie between parent and child.
The court will also consider both parents’ civil and criminal history. Parents who have sole custody may also file for a restraining order if they or their child has been a victim of domestic violence or assault. New Mexico considers custody records as confidential. Thus, only the individuals named on the record and their legal designees may access them. Otherwise, the requester must petition the court for an order or subpoena.
How to Find Family Court Lawyers in New Mexico
State Bar of New Mexico has a Lawyer Referral Program that connects public members with specialized attorneys. Interested individuals may also call (505) 797–6000 or toll-free number (800) 876–6227.