What Right Does a Grandparent Have to Visitation in New Mexico?

The bond between a grandparent and grandchild can be very strong and can provide a great deal of stability for a child whose parents are involved in dissolution proceedings. Fortunately, the New Mexico Legislature recognized this principle long ago and enacted the Grandparent’s Visitation Privileges Act in 1978.

The Act allows for a child’s biological grandparents to request visitation during proceedings to dissolve a marriage, to legally separate, or to establish paternity. Requests may also be made any time after judgment is entered in any of these proceedings.

It is easiest to obtain reasonable grandparent visitation if one or both of the child’s parents are deceased. The law allows any grandparent to petition the court for visitation in this circumstance, and the court may allow temporary visitation pending the final outcome of the grandparent’s request.

The law specifically allows a grandparent to petition for visitation when the child’s home state is New Mexico and the child lived with the grandparent for a set amount of time. If the child began living with the grandparent when she was five years of age or less, the time period is three months. If the child moved in with the grandparent when she was at least six years old, the time period is six months.

A grandparent may even seek visitation if the child has been adopted by a stepparent, one of the child’s relatives, the child’ guardian appointed in a will, or a religious baptism or confirmation sponsor.

By law, New Mexico courts consider eight factors in deciding whether to allow reasonable grandparent visitation:

  • The best interest of the child;
  • Any prior interaction of the child and the grandparent;
  • Any prior interaction of the parents and the grandparent;
  • The grandparent’s current relationship with the child’s parents;
  • Any visitation or time-sharing arrangements currently in place;
  • The effect that grandparent visitation will have on the child;
  • Whether the grandparent has been convicted of abuse or neglect; and
  • Whether the grandparent previously served as the child’s caretaker for any significant period of time.

If the court orders grandparent visitation, a parent who intends to change the location of the child’s home must tell the grandparent at least five days in advance, provide the child’s new address and telephone number, and allow the grandparent to communicate with the child.

Even if the court denies visitation, it may order that the child and grandparent have some other form of contact, such as telephone, mail, or virtual communication.

The attorneys at the Lightning Legal Group are experienced in family law matters. In fact, our founding attorney previously worked for the Foundation for Grandparenting. We have successfully handled all types of visitation requests, including those involving grandparents. Call us today at (505) 247-2390 to learn how we can help you with your grandparent’s rights issue.

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