Moving across town may not impact your child custody or visitation agreement. However, if you or your child’s other parent plan to relocate across the state, to another state, or another country, the current custody, and visitation agreement you have may no longer be in your child's best interests. If the child is in New Mexico, then they cannot be relocated unless they have the consent of the other parent and a court order approving this relocation.
Before the court approves a modification of child custody or visitation, the parent making the request needs to convince the court that relocation is a "material and substantial change" in circumstances. In many cases, the geographical relocation of one parent is considered a viable material and substantial change; in other situations, it's not.
Handling a Child Custody Relocation Issue
If both parents share custody of the child, the parent who is relocating should provide the other with written notice at least 30 days before the planned move. The parent not relocating then has the right to file an objection with the court.
After an objection is filed, the court may hold a hearing to see if the existing custody agreement should change. Essential factors considered at the hearing include:
- Why the parent is moving. The court wants to know if a parent is relocating for a legitimate reason, such as employment or to be closer to the family; or if a parent is moving in bad faith to limit a child’s relationship with the other parent.
- Connection to the existing community. This may be your children's involvement at school, close relationships, and participation in a religious community.
- Benefits of relocation for the minor. If the child has a lot of relatives in the potential new community, is having problems in the existing community, or if there are other positive aspects for relocation, the court considers these points and what's in the child's best interests.
- Children's opinions on relocation. If your children are 14 or older, the court may consider their views on relocation when making a decision.
- Children's relationship with each parent. If your child has a better relationship with the other parent, that can play a part in the court's decision.
- Parents' willingness to cooperate with each other.
- History of domestic abuse, if any.
The court may also evaluate anything else relevant to the child's best interests.
How a Family Law Attorney Will Help
Adults have a right to move, but this doesn't always include the right to take their children away from their other parent. Before one parent moves, they need to establish a new parenting plan with the other parent and with the court. If one parent has to move immediately, they can ask the court if they can appear via phone call. Child custody and visitation agreement changes the court may present include:
- Allowing your children to stay in their existing community with the parent who remains in New Mexico.
- Increasing visitation time during school breaks, including summer, so the remote parent can maintain strong relationships.
It's crucial to put your child's needs first, even if distance modifies how you parent and requires you and the other guardian to uphold different standards and approaches. Before you decide to move, or as soon as you learn of the other parent's intended relocation, consult a knowledgeable and compassionate Albuquerque family law attorney. Our legal team wants the best for your family and will present all options to help you and your children strive to maintain healthy connections. If the other parent contests the modified parenting plan, custody agreement, or time-sharing, then the issue is brought to the family court clinic, which can take a long time.
We can explain your and your child's legal rights through an initial consultation. Simply give us a call or fill out the brief contact form on this page to get started.