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When may a grandparent file a petition for visitation rights?

Divorce often brings many concerns. While much of them revolve around the spouses splitting and their children, there are other people that could factor into the situation. It is not uncommon for grandparents in New Mexico to become involved in dissolution, especially if it gets messy. Even if they intend to offer emotional and financial support to their child and grandchildren, grandparents also seek to protect their relationship with their grandchildren in the post-divorce life.

In what situations may a grandparent file a petition for visitation of a grandchild? In the state of New Mexico, grandparents could invoke their visitation rights in various situations. While many scenarios could result in a petition for visitation rights, the focus will remain on situations arising from a divorce.

In accordance with the Uniform Parentage Act, any time after a judgment for dissolution or legal separation is entered, the judge may grant visitation rights to the child's grandparents. The visitation privileges must be reasonable and may not conflict with the education of the child or any previously established visitation or time-sharing privileges ordered by the court.

If a grandchild and the grandparents have been residing together for a minimum of three months and the child is less than six years, or if the child is more than six years old and they have been residing with their grandparents for at least six months and a biological parent removes the child from the home of the grandparent, the grandparent could file a petition for visitation.

Lastly, when considering a visitation petition by a grandparent, the court will consider various factors. The most important factor to consider is the child's best interests. If the court assesses the situation and believes it is in the child's best interests to maintain a relationship with a grandparent, then the court may order a reasonable visitation agreement.

Dealing with visitation rights can be challenging for grandparents. In some situation, they may not be fully aware of their legal rights and what options are available to them. Since this post is for informational purposes only, it is crucial for grandparents to seek guidance about their situation so they can timely and properly invoke their grandparents' rights.

Source: Nmlegis.gov, "40-9-2. Children--Visitation by Grandparent--Petition-Mediation," accessed March 2, 2015

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