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Albuquerque Child Custody Lawyer

Defending Your Visitation Rights in New Mexico

NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC cares about your family and your children. We know that a divorce or separation can be a complicated situation, but our Albuquerque child custody attorneys are here to protect you and your child’s best interests.

Contact us today at (505) 431-4716 to speak with our New Mexico child custody lawyers

Why Choose Us?

  • We have over 50 years of combined experience.
  • We go the extra mile to ensure your family's needs are taken care of.
  • We provide compassionate counsel to get you through difficult, emotional times.
  • Your family's well-being is of the utmost importance to us.

Maintaining Healthy & Loving Relationships Through Shared Custodychild custody dispute

The correct legal term for when the child spends time with each parent is called “periods of responsibility.” Most people still use the term visitation or timesharing. This is the area of greatest disagreement between some parents who are divorcing or breaking up.

With that said, divorce or legal separation is a major upheaval for the entire family and the child will have to make some adjustments. There is no “default” visitation schedule anymore, even though it was common in previous times for the children to spend the majority of their time with the mother and every other weekend with the father, plus sharing holidays.

What Is "Best Interests of the Child?"

The time-sharing schedule of a child largely depends on who the primary caretaker of the child was before the divorce or legal separation. The judge focuses on the "best interests of the child."

The factors evaluated might include:

  • The child's age
  • The child's education, health care, extracurricular, or religious upbringing
  • Each parent's capability to provide financially for the child's needs
  • The child's relationship to each parent individually
  • The child's relationship with siblings or other family members
  • If there is evidence of drug or alcohol abuse from the parent
  • If the parent has been violent in the past
  • The child's personal preferences, if he or she is old enough

Very young children usually cannot handle well spending significant time away from the parent with whom they are primarily bonded. This does not mean the child does not love both parents; it means the child depends on one parent to meet most of his or her daily needs.

Determining Custody

Legal custody refers to decision-making power in the children’s lives, not where they physically live or how much time is spent with each parent. It is most common for New Mexico parents to receive joint legal custody.

"Joint custody" means that each parent has the right and responsibility to participate in making decisions about five key areas of the child’s life such as:

  • Residence: If the child lives in New Mexico, then neither parent can move the child out of state or generally more than 50 miles from the current town without the written consent of the other parent or a court order approving the relocation.
  • Religion: The religious practices the child followed (or did not follow) at the time of the divorce remains the same, meaning one parent cannot unilaterally change the religious practices of the child even if that parent changes his/her own beliefs or practices.
  • Education / Day Care: If possible, the child should remain in the same school system, post-divorce. This includes private schooling if the parents can still afford this option. If the child is in public school or homeschool, the child should still receive their education in that environment. A young child should also remain in the same daycare or with the same after-school caregiver as before the divorce when possible.
  • Non-Emergency Medical Treatment: Both parents have the right to attend non-emergency doctor or dental appointments with the child and have the right to speak with the medical providers. The child should continue to go the same medical providers post-divorce as long as they are covered by the child’s insurance plan.

Divorce & Custody - Status Quo Order

The “Status Quo” of the child is identified at the time of the divorce or legal separation for each of the five areas listed above. Neither parent can unilaterally change one of those categories without the agreement of the other parent or a court order permitting the change. The goal of maintaining the Status Quo is to provide as much familiarity and consistency for the child after the divorce or legal separation as before.

Sole Custody Vs. Modified Sole Custody

In rare instances, one parent is granted “sole custody” which means he or she decides the Status Quo of the child and can make changes to any of the categories listed above without the consent of the other parent. If that parent has been granted true sole custody, they are also allowed to move out of state or even out of the country with the child without the other parent agreeing.

On occasion, the court will award one parent “modified sole custody”, meaning one parent has decision-making power for one or two of the Status Quo categories. However, they cannot decide to move the child away from the current town or away from the State of New Mexico without the other parent’s consent or a court order approving the relocation. If you have any concerns about court orders with regards to relocation, our child custody lawyers in Albuquerque can offer guidance.

"Sole Custody" is very difficult to get because it essentially strips the other parent of the right and responsibility to make decisions about the major aspects of the child's life. Seeking sole custody is usually an uphill battle. Whether the judge will award sole custody depends on the facts of the case.

Call NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC Today

If you are looking for more information or counsel regarding child custody (sole or joint) or child visitation in New Mexico, look no further. NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC knows the New Mexico child custody laws and can help you build your case or mediate on your behalf. Our child custody attorneys in Albuquerque care about you and your children.

We will work towards mediation and try to achieve the most positive outcome possible for your children. Contact us today at (505) 431-4716