Chatterjee v. King and What it Means for Child Custody Issues

Recently the New Mexico Supreme Court handed down the decision in Chatterjee v. King, a case that brings to light many of the changes that are taking place in child custody decisions happening throughout the nation due to the fact that marriage no longer always defined as being between a man and a woman.

The Child Custody Case

The case involved two women in a long-term committed relationship who, deciding to adopt a child, had turned to foreign adoption. King legally adopted the child because the strict laws of the country prevented the women from jointly adopting the child. The child was jointly cared for in their home and supported by both women. When the relationship between the two deteriorated King decided to leave the home. She took the child to Colorado and attempted to prevent Chatterjee from having any contact from the child.

Chatterjee’s Response to Child Custody Determination

As King barred Chatterjee from having any contact with the child, Chatterjee filed a petition to establish parentage as well as determine custody and time sharing under the New Mexico Uniform Parentage Act. Chatterjee argued she was presumed to be a legal parent because she considered the child as her own and had established a personal, financial and custodial relationship with the child. But according to the Court of Appeals, only fathers could establish parentage based upon the presented facts. The Supreme Court rules states: The UPA provided a man is the natural father of minor child if he “openly holds out the child as his natural child and has established a personal, financial, or custodial relationship with the child.”


The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled this presumption is based on a person’s conduct and not a biological connection. Thus, a woman could hold out a child as her natural child and establish a personal, financial, or custodial relationship with that child and Chatterjee was entitled to be recognized as a parent and have an equal right to custody.

For advice on child custody and all it’s aspects, you need the help of Korol & Velen, certified family law specialists. Schedule a consultation today.

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