New Mexico Custody and Visitation Schedules
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
When creating a custody and visitation schedule in the State of New Mexico, is it important to have an understanding of the laws of the State in order to create a schedule the court will accept.
The laws pertaining to child custody and visitation in the State of New Mexico can be found in the New Mexico Statutes Annotated, Sections 40-4-9 and 40-4-9.1.
Once you have become familiar with the legislation, you will know what the expectations of the court are. This will enable you to create a child visitation schedule in compliance with the law, which will increase your chances of a successful outcome in your child custody case.
In child custody cases and any domestic proceedings involving the custody or visitation of children, the State of New Mexico does not favor one parent over another based on gender (NMSA § 40-4-9.1C).
Both mothers and fathers are considered to be the natural guardians of their child, and both parents are legally entitled to parent their child.
This should be kept in mind when creating your child visitation schedule so the court does not reject your schedule or make any modifications to it. The schedule should be made in a way that provides your child with the proper amount of time with each of you.
It is the official position of the State of New Mexico that children benefit from having both parents in their lives and joint custody is the preferred custodial arrangement.
In fact, at the onset of the child custody process, the court may order a temporary custody agreement, granting joint custody to both of you (NMSA § 40-4-9.1A), unless there is evidence that a joint custody arrangement would be detrimental to the child, such as neglect or abuse.
Joint custody means that the parents share the legal responsibility of raising the child and making important decisions involving the child. Traditionally, it also means that each parent will have the child at least 35% of the time in the course of a year.
Throughout this process, you will have the opportunity to agree to or contest the custody of the child, and the court will consider the best interests of the child before making a final ruling.
In the course of the proceedings, the court will consider the circumstances that effect the well-being and best interests of your child (NMSA § 40-4-9A, NMSA § 40-4-9.1).
Some of the factors the court considers are:
- The moral, physical, and mental fitness of the parents
- Any special needs the child may have and who is best equipped to handle those needs
- The quality of the child's relationships with each of his or her parents
- The child's relationships with any siblings, grandparents, and other people of importance in the child's life
- The proposed homes of the parents
- Whether or not the parents are able to cooperate and communicate with each other
- The preferences of the child as to custody
- Whether or not each parent is able to provide basic needs for the child, which include adequate food, clothing, and shelter
- Whether or not each parent is able to provide the child with a nurturing, safe, secure relationship and home
The court will also consider the wishes of the parents as to custody, and requires all parents to submit a parenting plan to the court.
Since you are your child's parents, you are expected to work together and include all of the items that you are able to agree on into a parenting plan. The child visitation schedule is a major component of the parenting plan.
Working with the other parent to formulate a schedule that meets the needs of your child by providing the child with the optimal amount of time with each parent is critical if you want to serve the best interests of your child.
Parents are better equipped to design a child visitation schedule for their child because they have an intimate knowledge of their own schedules and the needs of the child that a court could not possibly possess.
If you disagree on any aspects of your visitation schedule or parenting plan, you will be ordered to attend mediation in an attempt to resolve any issues you cannot agree upon (NMSA § 40-4-8B.1).
If there are any unresolved issues that were not worked out in mediation, the judge will make those decision for you.
Your child visitation schedule should be structured, organized, and ensure your child frequent, ongoing contact with both parents.
It should include:
- A residential schedule that specifies when the child will spend time with each parent
- A holiday schedule to equitably share holidays and special occasions with the child
- A vacation schedule to provide the child extended time with each parent for their personal vacation times and school breaks
There are no required "set schedules". Whatever works best for your child is what the court expects.
Be creative. If one parent gets off work two hours before the other, and it is feasible for that parent to pick the child up from school or daycare and spend an hour or two with the child, it is acceptable to include that in the schedule. The days of "every other weekend" parenting are becoming less and less common.
As long as your child visitation schedule is mutually agreed upon by both parents, meets the needs of your child, and serves his or her best interests, it should be readily accepted by the court (NMSA § 40-4-9.1D).
Once the court accepts and approves your parenting plan, it will become a court order both parents will have to abide by. The more thorough you are in your scheduling, the better your schedule will be.
The top thirteen cities in New Mexico (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Roswell, Farmington, South Valley, Alamogordo, Clovis, Hobbs, Carlsbad, Gallup, Deming.