A divorce can take its toll on even the best of families, and this can leave grandparents feeling concerned about their grandchildren for many reasons. If one spouse is awarded full custody of a child, his or her grandparents may worry that they will no longer have access to their grandchild. However, grandparents do have some rights to see their grandchildren post-divorce in New Mexico. If your grandchildren are in the center of a divorce, it’s crucial that you work to preserve your relationship with them because it will help you exercise what rights you do have to your grandchild after the divorce.
The best interests of the child standard
In New Mexico, what is considered to be in the child’s best interest is the guiding principle for many decisions, including custody and visitation. Naturally, this is usually the most important consideration in grandparent rights cases. Other considerations include:
• The state of the relationship between the grandchild and his or her grandparents and the parents and grandparents
• Existing visitation arrangements with the grandparents
• Whether either grandparent has a documented history of neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse
• Whether either grandparent acted as a full-time caretaker of the grandchild for any significant period of time
These factors and more come into play when the New Mexico court considers your request for grandchild visitation. Note that it’s important that you comply with the court completely when these areas are being evaluated because that will demonstrate your commitment to your grandchildren to the court.
Contact your grandchildren regularly
If you don’t already do so, call your grandchildren on a regular basis to maintain contact and keep the relationship strong. Visiting is always good, too, but if you’re unable or not allowed to see your grandchildren because one of the parents is limiting access, calling will help document your attempts to keep the relationship intact.
Help the parents if you can
The court will consider how much you help the parents when it comes to raising your grandchildren. This includes things like babysitting, paying certain expenses, visiting, and taking them to appointments. It is important not to interfere in the parenting of the other parent, of course, unless you feel the child is at risk of serious harm. Visiting to help with homework, attending your grandchildren’s events, and other joint activities will also help you stay connected to your grandchildren. Stay involved in your grandchildren’s lives in as many areas as you can to help cement your bond with them during this difficult time.
Document your case
In addition to keeping your relationship with your grandchild strong, you will also want to gather evidence if you’re going to request grandparent rights in court. You can seek these rights if you feel you are being purposely overlooked and/or kept away by a parent or guardian from your grandchildren. Keep track of your contact and time spent with your grandchildren, along with all of the other things you do for them. Receipts, for example, will show expenses you paid, and programs and ticket stubs can document time you spent with them at events. You can also make entries of visits and events on a calendar, but be sure to make clear notes that are easily understood in case you need to refer to them later.
If you are planning to seek visitation rights with your grandchildren, speak to an experienced family law attorney in New Mexico today. It’s all too easy for grandparents to get lost in the noise of a custody dispute, and an attorney can help you gather information that will build your case in court.