The importance of stability
In New Mexico, there is a waiting period of one year for any modifications to the child custody agreement. This rule is in place to help preserve a sense of stability for the child. Generally speaking, a court will be hesitant to grant any modification to the custody agreement within a year of its inception, or of the last time it was changed. However, if the child’s health or safety is an issue, then the one year waiting period need not apply.
The role of mediation in child custody agreement modification
Just because both parents don’t agree that the child custody agreement should be modified — or how it should be modified — doesn’t mean that litigation is the only way to resolve the situation. Mediation can be a more cost effective and less stressful alternative to family court in cases where parents disagree on custody issues. Mediators are often attorneys, but they don’t have to be. A judge will review the mediated agreement to make sure it is in the best interests of the child. A mediator also must be a neutral third party — an attorney representing one of the parents cannot also be their mediator.
A mediator is appropriate in cases where parents need some help laying their cards on the table and negotiating a solution to their disagreements. If the parties are unwilling to negotiate, are excessively angry, or the child’s health or safety are at stake, then mediation is not the right option. Remember, just because you’re choosing mediation doesn’t mean you can’t also hire an attorney — in fact, you likely still should, as a neutral mediator cannot put your interests first the way your attorney will.
If you want to modify your child custody agreement, or have more questions, give us a call today.