When a child is born in New Mexico during a marriage, or within 300 days of the dissolution of a marriage, the law in New Mexico will presume that the child is the child of the parties to the marriage. When a child is born outside of a marriage, the law only presumes that the mother is the parent of the child. A father can establish his paternity by: signing an acknowledgment of paternity form, which is available from the New Mexico Department of Health and Vital Statistics; by genetic testing; or by a pattern of behavior in which the alleged father holds himself out to be the child‘s father by doing things like paying child support and exercising visitation.
Both the mother and father of a child have a right to bring an action asking the Court to determine paternity for a child and determine child support, which is called a parentage suit. Either party may dispute paternity by filing a Motion for a DNA test for proof of paternity.
Establishment of paternity can be a serious issue because the state of New Mexico provides that the parents of a child are equally responsible for supporting and caring for that child. Similarly, each parent has a right to raise their child as they see fit, with certain parameters set by the state in order to protect the welfare of the child.
Thus, a parentage action does more than create a child support obligation it can lead to the entry of a parenting plan establishing custody and visitation. Further, the state itself can bring a parentage suit to establish paternity of a child and seek reimbursement of state assistance provided to that child. This is not uncommon where the mother has been receiving assistance from the State. Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) will initiate an action in these cases to provide support for the child and more importantly for the State to reduce the financial burden of raising the child on the State on New Mexico. IN this case. CSED will go after both future support as well as back child support arrearages.