Legal Question in Family Law in New Mexico

My little sister is 15 and wants to runaway from home to live with her father, but he is not her legal guardian. She wants to runaway from home due to bad living conditions. Will she get into trouble for running away? and will her father get into trouble for harboring a runaway?

Asked on 10/30/13, 10:00 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

George Chandler Chandler Law of Los Alamos

Whether there is trouble depends on whether the legal custodian complains.

Assuming there is a parenting plan in place, ideally, father would go to court that has jurisdiction and ask for a change of custody. Court is required to take into account (but is not bound by) the wishes of a child over 13. I would encourage little sister to follow that path.

If the bad living conditions amount to abuse or neglect then a report should be filed with Children Youth and Families Department which will investigate and can change custody, including looking for qualified relatives to take her. CYFD is a mixed bag, can be arbitrary and unreasonable, but they're sometimes the only option. If they are reasonable they have the power to do really good stuff.

If she runs away and gets caught by police or reported, she will fall into clutches of the CYFD anyway. That's not a good way for her to go, she may end up in foster care or a CYFD facility which I wouldn't wish on anyone. Again, I would encourage her to work with dad to get a custody change through the courts.

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Answered on 10/31/13, 8:07 am

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