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Modifying a Child Custody Agreement – Part 1

Need to modify your child custody agreement?

Ideally, both parents can come to an agreement on issues of child custody without intervention by the courts. However, oftentimes the decision to modify a custody agreement will not be supported by both parties. If this is the case, then you’ll need to make an argument for the change to a family court judge.

Child Custody and Visitation

Generally, the court will only grant a modification to a child custody agreement after a material change in circumstances. This is because the court wants to preserve as much continuity as possible in the child’s life. The best interests of the child will always be the court’s guiding principle when in comes to custody agreements. The court does not want to waste its time or burden the child for frivolous reasons.

What constitutes a material change in circumstances?

  • Moving — The planned move of one parent to a different city or state is one of the most common reasons for modification of a child custody agreement. Make sure to start the modification process as soon as you know you’ll be moving. It is also important to note that so long as the prior custody agreement was issued by a New Mexico court, New Mexico will retain jurisdiction over all future issues relating to custody.
  • Wishes of the child — If the child is expressing desire to spend more time with the non-custodial parent, that may constitute a material change in circumstances. While the court will certainly consider other factors, the wishes of the child are very important.
  • Negative changes in parenting practices — If one parent is exhibiting poor judgement or putting the child in danger, then the court will likely grant a modification of custody. Drug or alcohol abuse, leaving the child alone, or failing to take the child to school will weigh heavily in a court’s custody decision.

Check back soon for child custody agreement modifications — Part 2