New Mexico Legal Aid has published a legal guide for Kinship Caregivers.

  • It is available HERE to download.
  • It includes copies of "legal forms" that you can use in court.

Here are some definitions taken from the Guide:

  • A "kinship caregiver" is a person who is a relative, godparent, member of a child's tribe or clan, or an adult with a significant bond who has a child (person less than 18 years old) living with them and taking care of them because the birth parents aren't able or willing to do so.
  • A "Kinship Guardianship" is a legal order from a judge that says that the "kinship caregiver" has most of the rights responsibilities for the person(s) under age 18. The order also says that the birth parents do not have these rights and responsibilities until a judge issues another order giving these rights and responsibilities back to the birth parents.
  • "Kinship care" is the full-time care, nurturing and protection of children by any adult who had a kinship bond with a child. (Child Welfare League of America)
  • "Informal kinship care" is when an adult who is not the birth parent is taking care of a child under age 18 without a court order. When kinship care is informal, a birth parent can remove the child without notice. Police and child protective services will not prevent the child's removal unless there is recent evidence of significant abuse or neglect.
  • "Formal kinship care" is when an adult has legal guardianship or custody of the child.
  • "Institutional kinship care" is when a child is in the home of an adult with a kinship bond, but the State has legal custody.

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