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What are the rights of New Mexico grandparents in a divorce?

When couples in New Mexico divorce, there are often more than just the two spouses that are impacted in the process. This is especially true if children are involved. Not only do parents need to figure out a custody agreement and determine whether child support will be paid, they might also need to address issues regarding visitation rights for grandparents.

What are the rights of New Mexico grandparents during and after the divorce process? The laws of the state that designates grandparents' rights are outlined in Chapter 40 article 9 section 40-9-2. This statute states that the court, in rendering a judgment of dissolution of marriage, may grant reasonable visitation privileges to a grandparent of a minor child. But in granting these visitation rights, they may not conflict with either the child's education or a previously established visitation or time-sharing agreement.

When considering a visitation petition by a grandparent, the court will consider factors that are relevant to the best interests of the child. In addition, courts consider the prior interactions between the grandparent and child and the prior interaction and relationship between the grandparent and each parent of the child. Likewise, the present relationship between the grandparent and each parent of the child and the current visitation or custody arrangement in place prior to the filing for visitation rights will be assessed as well.

While it could be a simple process to seek grandparents' rights in court, this process can also lead to disputes. The divorce process is often emotional and stressful, and when a parent of a divorcing or divorced spouse steps forward to seek visitation rights, this could lead to unnecessary arguments.

Those seeking to invoke their rights and privileges as a grandparent should understand the process outlined by the state as well as potential issues and pitfalls they could encounter. This could help them determine methods to handle the problems, such as mediation. No matter how a grandparent and a parent chose to address these types of divorce issues, they should seek to keep the best interests of the child in mind.

Source: Law.justia.com, "NM Stat § 40-9-2 (2013)," accessed on Dec. 29, 2014

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