When you divorce or go through a child custody case in New Mexico, you receive a parenting plan that includes a schedule for you and your co-parent. If you or your co-parent frequently miss parenting time with your child, it can have serious repercussions.
Common Visitation Right Violations
Generally speaking, there are two major common visitation issues in New Mexico. One is a parent always being late for the child’s drop-off or pick-up times. While this can upset the child and cause problems for the co-parent, it does not typically call for the court to modify the current parenting arrangement on its own. If this is an issue you are having, work with your co-parent to adjust the pick-up and drop-off times so you have something that works better for everyone.
The second–and more serious–issue is a parent missing their parenting time completely. The court expects a parent to honor their parenting time, which is an assigned period of responsibility. It’s in the best interest of your child to do so, as they will be disappointed if you miss your time with them. A single missed visit does not make for a serious breach of the parenting plan, but if it is happening regularly, the court will not view it favorably. In addition, the other parent does not have to agree to let you make up missed time.
Potential Court Actions for Missed Parenting Time
If a parent is frequently missing their parenting time, the court may take action. How the court handles the issue will depend on how many visits have been missed and the reasons for it, whether the missing parent gave advance notice, the behavior of the missing parent, and how the missed visits have impacted the child. The judge may take one or more of the actions below.
- Order the missing parent to pay and take parenting classes
- Order the missing parent to pay for and attend counseling sessions
- Order the missing parent pay a fee to the other parent for the missed visits
- Order the parents to attend mediation sessions to try to resolve the issue, which the missing parent will have to pay for
In an extreme case, the parenting plan may have to be changed. The parent who misses visits may lose time with their child and have their access to them limited. While the court generally views that it is best for a child to have regular visits with the non-custodial parent, this can be reevaluated when that parent often misses visits for no reason and/or displays a negative or uncaring attitude about the situation in court.
If you are a parent who is missing visits for reasons beyond your control, contact a family law attorney for help. You may need to have the current plan changed so you can fulfill your obligation and spend time with your child on a regular basis. It is better to have visits scheduled that you are certain you can make than scheduling visits you know you may miss because of work or other obligations.
If you are a co-parent with someone who keeps missing their visits with your child, you need to take some steps to protect yourself. Keep a record of the missed visits and any supporting documentation – such as a text from your co-parent saying they are not coming – and speak to a family law attorney for assistance right away. You may need to return to court to adjust the parenting plan so that it works better for everyone involved.