So what should you do if your spouse leaves the state with your children? If the children have been removed from New Mexico, you should immediately file an action in District Court of the New Mexico County in which the children most recently lived. If the children have been relocated to New Mexico from another state, then you should file an action in your home state as soon as possible in order to avoid allowing the New Mexico Court to gain jurisdiction over the custody of the children.
Filing an action immediately will ensure that jurisdiction remains in the children‘s home state, and not the state to which they have been wrongfully relocated. In most cases absent emergency circumstances, the Court will order that the children be returned home. This will depend on the circumstances surrounding the relocation of the children, but in any event acting quickly is essential to preventing jurisdiction attaching in the other state.
Jurisdiction can be very important to child custody matters. Having child custody litigated in a state other than your home state and the home state of the children can have serious and negative consequences. The costs of litigation will go up tremendously due to travel. In addition, many witnesses including teachers, counselors, coaches, grandparents, and others close to the children will be prohibited from involvement in the case due to distance.
Unfortunately, many opportunistic parents understand this and seek to move jurisdiction far from your home and the home of those closest to the children. What often happens in these cases is that the parent, whose children have been wrongfully relocated, will file an action in the second state in an effort to get the children returned. However, filing an action in the second state can be construed by the courts of the second state as your consent to their jurisdiction.
Unless you want to litigate your child custody issues in the in the second state, then you should avoid filing anything in the second state and immediately seek relief in the Court of your home state. Just like many of the issues that can come up in a divorce, a potential transfer of jurisdiction can have very negative consequences for you and your children. If you are facing this situation, you should contact an attorney immediately.