New Mexico  |  Family Law

Legal Question

Asked on: 7/17/13, 7:46 am

What is the legal age a child can stay home alone without a babysitter. in new mexico

1 Answer

Answered on: 7/17/13, 8:41 am by George Chandler

Not a simple question. There is no age, basically it requires a judgment on the part of the parent that child will be safe. child is anyone under 18.

Go to this site and read the criminal statute 30-6-1 "abandonment or abuse of a child." You could be charged with abandonment - leaving the child where it can suffer "neglect' - or abuse - intentional or negligent. Charging would be done by police, usually if something dramatic happens like an auto accident or fire, or after investigation by CYFD if a neighbor reports child alone.

A recent case interpreted the negligence element of 30-6-1 as follows: "we require proof that the defendant knew or should have known of the danger involved and acted with a reckless disregard for the safety or health of the child."

This may not be very satisfying to you but it boils down to this: if you leave a child home alone you should be prepared to explain to a court why it was reasonable to do so, based on objective knowledge of the child's level of maturity, the circumstances around your neighborhood and home, the availability to the child of support in the event of emergency. I think a lot of people start hiring kids to baby sit smaller kids around the age of 14, but 14 year olds vary wildly in their maturity.

And bear in mind that your judgment of your own child's maturity may be colored by your affection for the child and by your self-interest. Some experimentation may be in order - gradually increasing the periods of time you leave the child - to establish confidence.

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George Chandler Law 1208 9th Street Los Alamos, NM 87544

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