What Is New Mexico’s Safe Exchange and Supervised Visitation Program?

In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, there is sometimes hostility between the parents. Fortunately, New Mexico has programs in place to ease this heavy burden on the state’s children. The safe exchange and supervised visitation program supports the relationships of children and their parents, with a focus on protecting the best interests of the child.

The safe exchange program is designed to transfer a child between the parents without requiring any contact between the parents. This helps to reduce the likelihood that a child will be exposed to the acrimonious relationship of the parents, such as discussions of adult issues, foul language, or even physical hostility.

For example, when it is time for weekend visitation, the custodial parent might bring the child to a designated room in a neutral location at a specific time. The other parent would be directed to arrive at a different time and to report to a different room. The child would then be transferred from one parent to the other by visit monitors, and the parents would leave at different times, so they would not be exposed to one another in the parking area. Safe exchange is also known as “supervised transfer,” “monitored exchange,” “neutral drop-off/pick-up,” or similar terms.

The supervised visitation program is used to allow visitation between a child and parent for reasons such as the following:

  • A prolonged absence of the child from a parent, significantly weakening the bond between the two;
  • Domestic violence between the parents; and
  • A history of abuse of the child by the parent.

Part or all of visit may be supervised, but the focus of this program is the “protection and safety of the child and adult participants.”

The New Mexico Court Standards for Safe Exchange & Supervised Visitation establish rules with which all safe exchange and supervised visitation programs must comply. The rules apply to several aspects of this system:

  • The qualifications and mandatory training of staff members;
  • The development of safety and security procedures;
  • The responsibilities of programs that offer safe exchange and supervised visitation services; and
  • Administration requirements, such as mandatory insurance and fee information.

The Court Standards also require periodic criminal background checks and ongoing education of workers.

A judge may use the safe exchange and supervised visitation program, or a parent may request these services. A sliding fee scale is used.

An experienced New Mexico family lawyer can advocate for the child custody and visitation plan that is best for you and your children. If you’re faced with dissolution proceedings or are thinking about filing proceedings against your spouse, contact the Lightning Legal Group. We understand the toll that a negative relationship can take on a person, and we’ll help you find your way. Contact us today at (505) 247-2390 for experienced legal advice.

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