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Guardianship & Adoption

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...helping families help children through the legal guardianship and adoption process
Why guardianship or adoption?
Many youth are involved in informal custody arrangements with grandparents, aunts, uncles,  or family friends.  Custodial adults often need the legal authority required to register youth for school and authorize medical treatment and may be able to receive foodstamps, health insurance and other benefits for the youth.

Guardianship is a custody arrangement approved by the court.  In a guardianship, a non-parent is given parental rights and responsibilities over a minor.  A guardianship suspends parental rights but does NOT terminate them.  A guardianship is valid until the minor turns 18 or until the court decides to give guardianship of the minor back to the parent.
Adoption is a court procedure that creates a legal relationship between a caregiver and a child that is identical to that of a parent and biological child and terminates the biological parent's rights.
When it is needed?
Guardianship is needed when a minor is living with grandparents, relatives or caregivers and the minor's parents are unavailable or are unable to care for the child.  The caregiver needs to provide for family relationships that will give the child protection and econimic security to develop physically, mentally and emotionally to the maximum extent possible.  Parents my be deceased, homeless, incarcerated, institutionalized or absent. 

Who can be a guardian?
A guardian may be a relative, a friend of the family or another adult who is trusted by the minor, parent and court, and with whom the child has been living for at least three months.

Who can be an adoptive parent?
Advocacy only provides adoption services for relatives of the child or a step parent.  The relationship between the biological parent and the child must have dissintegrated. 

Services are free or low cost.  Any charges for services are on a sliding scale based on family income.  The intake worker will discuss fees and court costs at the time of intake. 

How the NM Guardianship Project works:
Call Advocacy Inc. at (505) 266-3166/(866) 257-5320 for an initial screening.

  • If you qualify initially, a staff person will conduct an intake over the telephone--it takes about 20 minutes.
  • Fees, if there are any, will be discussed during the intake.  Fees are reasonable and determined by income and on a sliding fee scale. 
  • Your case is reviewed by our legal staff.  You will be contacted by our office to inform you if your case is accepted.  It will be assigned to an attorney.
  • You will visit our office to sign a contract.
  • The Guardianship Project will do a home visit and review the placement of the child.
  • Your case will be filed with the court once the final payment is made.  The attorney will contact you to review the paperwork.
  • You will need to attend a court hearing to finalize the guardianship.

Alternatives to Guardianship
Power of Attorney--A Power of Attorney is a legal document by which a parent authorizes another adult to act on behalf of the child.  A Power of Attorney is a "permission slip" which tells others, such as doctors or teachers, the other adult has the authority to sign in place of the parent.  It is not necessary to go to court.  A Power of Attorney becomes active when signed by a parent in front of a Notary Public.  By signing a Power of Attorney the parent does not give up any parental rights.  Powers of Attorneys are only valid for up to six months and can be revoked at any time.
Click Here for Information...Power of Attorney

Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit--A Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit is a legal document which was authorized by the New Mexico Legislature in June 2001.  Like a Power of Attorney, the affidavit allows a non-parent to enroll a child in school or sign for medical treatment.  The affidavit is used when a parent is not available to sign a Power of Attorney.  It does not change any parental rights and the caregiver does not gain legal custody of the child.  The affidavit is valid for one year.
Click Here for Information...Caregiver's Affidavit 

Financial Support for Families Information Sheet--This is a list of services and benefits that might provide you with financial support.  Contact and application information is provided for Medicaid, Food Stamps, TANF, WIC, Housing, Child Care, Child Support, Social Security and Veterans Benefits.
Click Here for Information...Financial Support for Families

Pro Se Forms Online--This is a link to the NM Supreme Court's site for Forms if you want to file your own Kinship/Guardianship.  We cannot provide you with legal support in a pro se case, but these forms might be of help.
Click Here for Web Site...Pro Se Forms (13th Judicial District)

PowerOfAttorney.pdf20.57 KB
Financial Support for Families.pdf97.23 KB
CaregiversAffidavit.pdf203.83 KB