Parents who are not granted joint legal custody of their children still have child visitation rights in most cases. If you’re a parent with visitation, you may find that the other parent is refusing to honor your rights and not allowing you to see your child. In other cases, a parent may attempt to micromanage what the other parent does from afar or find other ways to interfere with visitation.
Matters like these are best handled with the assistance of a child custody and visitation attorney. Matteucci Family Law can help establish and protect your visitation rights. Bob Matteucci is ready to get started on your case today.
Legal Custody Versus Child Visitation in New Mexico
When legal custody disputes arise, courts have to decide who will make decisions regarding the child. In most cases, either one parent will be awarded sole legal custody (one parent makes all major decisions) or both parents will be awarded joint legal custody (both parents together make the major decisions). Visitation is the time a parent spends with the child. The amount of visitation time a parent has can be 50/50 or a different percentage.
Both parents typically want over 50% of the time. If the parents cannot agree to a visitation schedule, then a judge may need to. Courts have to consider the best interests of the child when making custody and visitation decisions. How the best interests standard will apply varies from one case to another based on the circumstances.
Parents have the option, and are encouraged, to come up with a Parenting Plan that accommodates their desires for custody and visitation. The court will still have to approve this plan and can reject it if it doesn’t meet the child’s best interests. Working with a child custody and visitation attorney, however, you can craft a plan that balances everyone’s wishes.
What are some factors the court may consider?
When deciding legal custody and visitation, the court may examine any number of criteria. A few of the most common factors the court will consider are:
- Which parent can provide the best home environment for the child
- The mental and physical health of both parents
- The new living arrangements that both parents will have, e.g. whether the child will have his or her room
- Whether the custody or visitation desired would alter the child’s living arrangements
- Whether any change in living arrangements would disrupt the child’s life
- The wishes of the child, which from age 14 up will be taken into account
- The nature of the relationship between both parents and the child
- How siblings and family support structure might impact the child
- Any allegations of drug or alcohol abuse
- Any allegations of child abuse or domestic violence
Of course, the factors that the judge will look at in your case may be vastly different from the above list. In preparing for your legal custody and visitation matter, it’s important to be upfront with your attorney about all potentially relevant facts. That includes information that could hurt your position. Although it’s difficult to discuss such things, your attorney needs to have a complete picture of the situation so your rights and interests can be effectively defended. Remember, communications with your lawyer are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Challenges that Arise in Visitation Cases
If you’ve been granted visitation in your custody case, this is just the beginning. Custodial parents often disregard the other parent’s visitation rights, and several problems may come up. They can include:
Missed visits. You’ve been given a visitation schedule and expect the other parent to abide by it. Even in the best-case scenario, visits will be missed. Sometimes these visits are for legitimate reasons, like the child being sick. But in far too many cases, the custodial parent is acting in bad faith by having the child miss a visit.
Whether you come up with a Parenting Plan or the judge makes the custody and visitation decisions, it’s a good idea to have terms in place that allow for missed time to be made up. However, if the custodial time is consistently violating the plan or court order, it may be time to consider a modification. That’s where changed circumstances come in.
Modifying custody. Custody orders and plans are not written in a vacuum. Life is always changing for both parents and children. After your Parenting Plan is adopted or the judge hands down a custody and visitation order, it’s more likely than not that significant life changes will arise.
The custodial parent may be able to adapt to and overcome these changes. But if not, the child’s best interests could be put at risk. A significant change in circumstances could support a request to modify the previous time-sharing arrangement, so be sure to keep your attorney aware of what’s happening in your case.
Interfering with visitation. Custodial parents often attempt to control what the visiting parent does during his or her time with the child. Micromanaging the parent’s actions, unnecessarily calling the child, and other forms of interruption are typically done to undermine the visiting parent’s rights. If you’re finding this is the case for you, speak to your lawyer.
Tying visitation to child support. The amount of time-sharing affects child support, but visitation and support are two distinct matters under law. If you’re behind on support, the custodial parent cannot deny you visitation. By the same token, you cannot refuse to pay child support if there are problems with visitation. There are other, appropriate remedies available to handle visitation and support issues. Talk to your attorney about how best to deal with them.
Contact Our New Mexico Child Visitation Attorney Today!
At Matteucci Family Law, Attorney Bob Matteucci protects the rights and interests of his clients and their children. Bob explores out-of-court methods for resolving custody and visitation disputes, such as comprehensive Parenting Plans and mediation. No matter the family law issue you have, he is prepared to assist you. Contact Matteucci Family Law today.
Matteucci Family Law Firm helps families with child visitation matters all across New Mexico including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Lunas, and Rio Rancho.