Custody Agreements for Parents: What to Consider

By Bob Matteucci
Attorney

Figuring out how to co-parent with your former partner is never easy. While you both want what is best for your children, you likely will disagree about what that means. Whether you are figuring out who gets primary physical custody, where your child is going to celebrate Christmas, or what sports your kid is allowed to play, having a formal child custody agreement in place is important. 

At Matteucci Family Law, Attorney Bob Matteucci helps couples in Albuquerque and across the state of New Mexico negotiate a parenting plan that fairly apportions physical custody of their child and addresses the issues that arise when co-parents must make decisions about how best to raise their child. 

New Mexico Favors Joint Custody

Under NM Stat § 40-4-9.1 (2021), every parent should expect to share custody of their children with their former partner. Unless one parent is completely unfit for the job, there is a presumption in state law that joint custody will be awarded, and both parents will take responsibility for their child’s financial, physical, emotional, and developmental needs. 

That being said, the amount of time the child spends with each parent is, many times, not split 50/50. One parent may have primary physical custody while the other plays an important supporting role. Sometimes the periods a noncustodial parent is granted with a child are referred to as visitation. 

Factors to Consider When Figuring Out Physical Custody 

How the time a child spends with each parent is apportioned varies from family to family. The key consideration is what is in the best interest of the child. As you attempt to determine what is best, you may want to consider the same factors the courts do when they take up custody cases:

  • the wishes of the child;
  • the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
  • the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; and
  • the mental and physical health of all individuals involved.

This is just a jumping-off point. Your family’s custody agreement must match the needs of your child. 

Factors To Consider Beyond Physical Custody

A well-written parenting plan should address more than your child’s physical custody. New Mexico state law encourages parents to consider including the following information in their parenting plans:

  • (1) statements regarding the child’s religion, education, child care, recreational activities, and medical and dental care;
  • (2) designation of specific decision-making responsibilities;
  • (3) methods of communicating information about the child, transporting the child, exchanging care for the child, and maintaining telephone and mail contact between parent and child;
  • (4) procedures for future decision-making, including procedures for dispute resolution; and
  • (5) other statements regarding the welfare of the child or designed to clarify and facilitate parenting under joint custody arrangements.

Attorney Matteucci can help you craft language that addresses these and other topics you and your former partner consider to be important. 

Serving Families with Dignity & Compassion 

Every family deserves a parenting plan that is carefully crafted to meet its unique needs. Figuring out how to share physical custody of your child is just the first step. It is also necessary to make sure both parents share in the decision-making process as their child faces the many challenges that come with growing up. 

When you are ready to formalize your co-parenting agreement, Attorney Bob Matteucci is here to help.  Contact the Matteucci Family Law Firm today to schedule a meeting.

About the Author
Bob Matteucci is a board certified family law specialist, with a statewide practice in the area of divorce and family law.