While financial issues can have a significant impact on a parent’s post-divorce life, there usually is no issue that is more concerning than the effect of the divorce on a parent’s relationship with his or her child. Parents typically do not contemplate the prospect of being denied the freedom of spending unlimited time with their child or exercising unfettered discretion when developing disciplinary rules and childrearing practices until the situation actually arises. Unfortunately, both parenting time and the right to exercise exclusive authority over parenting decisions is compromised when a New Mexico family law court imposes a parenting plan.
Parents who are unsatisfied with the parenting plan imposed by a family law judge or even those who begrudgingly agree to such a plan in settlement discussions may be inclined to disregard the judge’s custody or visitation orders. Although adjustments may be appropriate at times based on unforeseen circumstances or special occasions, parents may be punished by a family law judge or even a criminal court depending on the nature and extent of a parent’s interference with the exercise of custody time or visitation by the other parent.
Because a divorce will not terminate the parental relationship you share with the other parent, the best option is to find ways to constructively co-parent, which means less stress for the parents and children as well as less money drained over post-judgment child custody modification and enforcement proceedings. When our Santa Fe or Albuquerque Child Custody Attorney represent clients, we focus on creating pathways of effective parental communication and parenting plans that are reasonably acceptable to both parents whenever possible. Although there are ways to compel a parent to comply with the terms and conditions of a parenting plan regarding custody and visitation, it usually benefits both the parents and children if the use of these enforcement procedures are the exception rather than the rule.
Even when one parent is completely reasonable and cooperative, sometimes the other parent may intentionally frustrate a parent’s custody or visitation rights. There are many ways parents may violate a parenting plan, but some common scenarios include:
• Refusing to make the child available for parenting time
• Declining to share critical information about school, medical treatment and similar issues
• Disregarding a court order specifying telephone, email or text communication with the child
• Failing to return the child at the end of a scheduled visit
• Tardiness at a custody exchange without notice and/or reasonable justification
• Discouraging the child from spending time with the other parent
These are only a few situations that may constitute interference with a parent’s custody or visitation in New Mexico. If you feel that the other parent is denying your parental rights as defined by the family law judge, you might first want to try amicably resolving the issue directly with the other parent. If this does not prove effective, the next step might be to contact a New Mexico Parenting Plan Attorney who can attempt to negotiate a resolution without the need to further escalate the situation. In extreme cases, some state’s treat interference with the custody time of a parent as a criminal offense. A parent’s refusal to abide by the terms of a parenting plan also may constitute contempt of court, which can result in an order to pay the other parent’s attorney fees and even a short period in jail.
The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.
If you feel that the other parent is interfering with your custody or visitation rights, our experienced New Mexico Child Custody Attorneys can answer your questions. Jay Goodman & Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your situation and answer your questions. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8177 to learn about your rights and options.