In New Mexico, judges decide family law cases based on the information available at the time the case is heard. The agreements struck are frozen in time, but you and your family members will move on with your lives.
Sometimes moving on means literally moving. Whether you or your child’s other parent are the ones relocating, you must consider whether the change will impact your current child custody and child support agreements. If it will, you and your former partner should be prepared to make some changes to your current custody and support agreements, and ask the court to formalize them.
If you are moving, Attorney Bob Matteucci can help you negotiate an updated child custody and child support agreement, and get it approved by the court. He is also ready to assist you if you want to oppose a relocation you believe will have a negative impact on your child.
HOW RELOCATION CAN IMPACT CHILD CUSTODY & CHILD SUPPORT
Custody orders and child support agreements are made with numerous factors in mind, one of which is the ease of sharing physical custody of the child. When parents live relatively close to one another, and can easily transport the child between homes, it makes things a bit simpler.
Whether you or your child’s other parent is moving across town or across the country, it may become difficult to honor your existing custody agreement. You may not be able to ferry your child between homes as frequently or as easily as before. You may have to find a new place to meet up, or even arrange flights if you are living a great distance from one another. It may no longer be possible for you or your child’s other parent to see your child as often as you would like.
STEPS TO TAKE PRIOR TO RELOCATION
If you know you will soon be relocating, or your child’s other parent has told you he or she is planning on moving, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure your child is not adversely impacted.
The first is openly communicating with your former partner. Most relocations are planned out well before the moving trucks arrive. Discussing your move with your former partner and child, and having an honest conversation about how it will impact your parenting is as important as stocking up on packing tape and bubble wrap. Having time to mentally prepare for a change can make a world of difference, especially in the eyes of a child.
If a move is going to impact your ability to spend time with your child, the second thing you should do is contact an experienced New Mexico family law attorney like Bob Matteucci. Even if you and your former partner are on the same page when it comes to adjusting your custody and child support arrangement, you will want to have a court formalize your agreement just in case problems arise down the road.
MODIFYING YOUR CHILD CUSTODY & CHILD SUPPORT AGREEMENTS
Under New Mexico law, family law agreements, orders, and judicial decisions may be modified by the court if you, your former partner, or your child is dealing with a material and substantial change in circumstances. Relocations count as such a change, but courts are often reluctant to add these cases to their docket. Judges fear that even simple modification requests will get messy if one of the parties is unreasonable.
If possible, new child custody and child support agreements should be pre-negotiated before filing anything with the court so all the judge has to do is rubber-stamp the requested changes. Attorney Matteucci has helped bring many families to the negotiating table so a new plan that works for everyone can be hashed out.
Most people are willing to update their family court orders in response to one parent’s desire to move, but some people are more stubborn. Attorney Matteucci can and does litigate requests for modifications when it is clear his client’s child’s needs will not be met unless aggressive action is taken.
Whether everyone can agree on modifications, or a request must be litigated, the court is going to want to see strong evidence that the move requires a change. Judges dislike the idea of “fixing” something they believe they got right the first time, and want to make sure any move they make will protect or improve your child’s quality of life.
In evaluating the relocating parent’s request to move, and the effect it will have on the custody order, a judge will consider several factors:
- The parent’s reason for relocating
- The child’s relationship with both parents
- The effect that one parent’s relocation will have on the other parent’s relationship with the child; and
- The child’s ties to his or her current location.
Remember, the court’s paramount concern in any matter affecting custody, including relocation, is in the child’s best interest. Before agreeing to the change, the judge will take a look at:
- Whether the proposed new living arrangement is safe and stable
- The child’s bonding and relationships with parents and friends in his or her current location
- The child’s involvement with school and extracurricular activities at his or her current location
- How long the child has lived where he or she is now
- Whether there is any evidence the child will have trouble adjusting to the relocation; and
- Any other issue that concerns the child’s best interests.
If the judge approves the move and signs off on a new custody arrangement, it is then time to consider whether the child support agreement should be modified as well. Payments may need to be increased or decreased depending on the new custody arrangement.
CONTACT ATTORNEY BOB MATTEUCCI FOR HELP IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD’S OTHER PARENT IS MOVING
As you, your child, and your child’s other parent move forward with your lives, you will have different wants and needs than you had at the time your family law case was originally decided. If you or your former partner needs to relocate for personal reasons or for work, you may need to adjust your child custody and child support agreements to fit your new living circumstances.
Attorney Bob Matteucci is ready to help you negotiate a new agreement the New Mexico family court system will easily approve, but can also assist you if you need to fight for what is best for your child. Give Bob Matteucci a call today to get started.