If you are involved in a New Mexico divorce or paternity action, your desire to maintain a close loving relationship with your children is probably one of your biggest concerns.  While neither the divorce process nor a paternity action needs to be particularly stressful or contentious when it involves children, custody disputes where one of the parents attempt to alienate the children from the other parent can severely damage the parent-child relationship.

New Mexico courts view actions and statements that may lead to alienation of a minor child’s relationship with the other parent in an extremely negative light.  If a court finds that one parent has intentionally engaged in a pattern of activity designed to damage the other parent’s relationship with minor children, the court may use this as a basis to change custody to the aggrieved parent.  New Mexico courts like those in other states presume that children benefit from continuing contact with both parents.

Judges in custody case in New Mexico cases will often appoint an expert to make recommendations regarding legal custody and parenting time arrangements.  These experts are usually family therapists or other mental health professionals who are astute at detecting parental alienation.  These experts will generally be able to identify and consider a broad range of alienating behavior including:

  • Making disparaging comments about the other parent to the child
  • Refusing to cooperate in facilitating custody exchanges
  • Attempting to discourage the children from spending custody time with the other parent
  • Discussing inappropriate details of the divorce with the child
  • False allegations of child abuse, neglect or domestic violence
  • Expressing negative opinions about the other parent in the presence of the child

If you believe that the other parent in a child custody dispute in New Mexico is engaging in conduct designed to damage your relationship with your child, it is important to immediately seek legal advice.  While courts view such conduct negatively, family law judges are in a difficult position if the child has already been alienated from a parent by these types of conduct or comments.

Although one option to remedy parental alienation by a parent is to change primary custody to the other parent, this may not be a viable option if the parent-child relationship has already suffered serious damage.  The court’s final responsibility in New Mexico child custody cases is to structure a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.  A judge may not consider it appropriate to remedy disparaging conduct by one of the parents in a custody case if it means putting the child in situation where the child will be afraid, hostile or uncomfortable.  Professional counseling may even be necessary to undo the damage that has been done if you wait to move forward and raise parental alienation issues.

If you have questions about child custody or parental alienation, the New Mexico Law Firm of Jay Goodman and Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your options.  Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights. 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 experience legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.



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