New Mexico provides child with counsel for matters related to voluntary placement agreements

Key_development Question_mark

04/04/2023, Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

In 2023, New Mexico passed SB 31, which amended N.M. Stat. § 32A-3A-6, to provide that when a parent or guardian signs a "voluntary placement agreement", 


The office of family representation and advocacy shall assign the child a guardian ad litem. Only an attorney with appropriate experience shall be appointed as guardian ad litem of the child. When a voluntary placement agreement is subject to court review, the guardian ad litem shall inform the court as to the child's wishes.


N.M. Stat. § 32A-3A-6(E).  A "voluntary placement agreement" is defined as a "written agreement between the department and the parent or guardian of a child" in the context of a "child or family in need of family services", which is here defined as a family:


(1) whose child's behavior endangers the child's health, safety, education or well-being; 

(2) whose child is excessively absent from public school as defined in the Attendance for Success Act;

(3) whose child is abasent from the child's place of residence for twenty-four hours or more without the consent of the parent, guardian or custodian;

(4) in which the parent, guardian or custodian of the child refuses to permit the child to live with the parent, guardian or custodian; or

(5) in which the child refuses to live with the child’s parent, guardian or custodian[.]


N.M. Stat. § 32A-3A-2(A),(I).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes