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Fairness important in family law

New Mexico residents who are involved in a divorce or grandparents who worry about how a child's divorce will affect their ability to see their grandchildren might be interested in a recent article pertaining to family law. It points out that sometimes the fair and right thing to do concerning children is at odds with what the law allows.

The article gave examples when the law was not on the side of what was fair unless people protected themselves with legal agreements. One example was a mother who left her 6-month-old daughter with her mother after having a drug charge. For the next three years, the woman was gone for months at a time. She continued to use her mother's address as her legal address, but only visited her baby every few months and never provided any support for her child.

According to the article, the grandmother raised the child from age 6 months until she was 3 years old. At that time, the mother decided to become sober. After being sober a few months, she wanted her child back, although her daughter had bonded with her grandmother. At that point, the grandmother wouldn't even have the legal right to regular access to her granddaughter unless her daughter allowed it. Although she had cared for her grandchild for several years, the daughter never relinquished custody. That means the woman could claim her mother was just baby-sitting. Since the law favors the biological parent, if the grandmother wanted full access to her granddaughter or wanted to adopt her, she would have to prove that the child's physical and emotional welfare was threatened by not seeing her grandmother.

It is important to consider children's needs, including being allowed to continue relationships with their grandparents. Lawyers can help by drawing up visitation agreements for grandparents that protect the opportunities of children and the grandparent to continue relationships.

Source: Huffington Post, "The 'F' Word in Family Law", Natalie Gregg, December 03, 2013

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