Understanding Child Custody and Parenting Plans

When you have children in New Mexico and your relationship with the other parent ends, child custody arrangements are generally what dictate your schedule with the kids. Out of your custody case comes the parenting plan, which details how much time you and your ex have with the children. Since these are done through the court, it is very important that you follow the plan as closely as possible. If you routinely miss your scheduled visitation period or violate the plan in other ways, there can be consequences.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a legal document that outlines the responsibilities and rights of each parent when it comes to the child. It includes how much time each parent will have with the child. This time share is often known as a “period of responsibility”–you are responsible for everything concerning the child during your period.

There are a few ways a parent can violate a parenting plan, but two of the most common are being constantly late dropping off or picking up the child and canceling your time with your child with no real notice to the other parent.

When a parent is always late dropping off or picking up a child, it can upset the child and cause problems for the other parent. However, this does not usually give the other parent grounds for changing the parenting plan on its own. Still, it is important to always be on time when dropping off and picking up your child. This will help your child feel more secure via the routine, and it will help you avoid sparking disagreements with the other parent.

Missing your time with your child is a more serious issue. The court expects parents to handle their assigned periods of responsibility. It’s also best for the child, who wants to see their parent and will be disappointed when they do not show up. Missing time every once in a great while due to an emergency or unforeseen event should not cause issues, but if a parent frequently misses their parenting time, the other parent can take them back to court for action.

What Does the Court do if a Parent Frequently Misses Their Parenting Time?

How the court handles a parent who keeps missing their parenting time will depend on how many times they’ve skipped a visit, why they skipped the visit, whether they let the other parent know ahead of time, their attitude as a parent, and the impact on the child.

The court will consider what is in the best interest of the child when it comes to a parent who constantly misses visits and may order one or more of the actions below.

. The missing parent may have to pay for and attend parenting classes or family counseling sessions.
. The missing parent may have to pay a fee to the other parent when they are late for or miss visits.
. Both parents may need to attend mediation, which the missing parent will have to pay for.

In a serious case, the court may change the custody agreement and limit the missing parent’s access to their child. While the court does view that it is best for the child to regularly see both parents in most cases, this may be reconsidered if one parent keeps missing visits for no good reason.

My Co-Parent Keeps Missing Time–What Should I do?

Having already gone through the courts, the last thing you likely want to do is go back to court because your co-parent keeps missing their visitation periods. However, you should protect yourself if your co-parent isn’t following the plan. Keep a detailed log of their visits, noting all incidents of lateness and misses. You may need to contact your family law attorney and return to court to have the plan changed.