Legal Question in Family Law in New Mexico

I have 2 kids 6 and 7, their mom has custody and I have visitation rights. She moved 60 miles away to go to school. The kids stayed here and they were living with her mom. She would take them to school and I would pick them up after school and take them to sports practices and games then they would go with their grandmas for the rest of the night. Recently my kids

mom and her dad had a physical fight in front of the kids so she just up and took the kids to live with her and has not made any visitation plans. The kids say they would rather go to school here and I don't think its right to just change there school halfway through a semester. My question is can my kids choose who they want to live with and is their mom able to just take them like that? What can I do?

Asked on 10/08/13, 8:18 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

George Chandler Chandler Law of Los Alamos
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Whatever is in the parenting plan that gives you your "visitation rights" is the rule you are supposed to be following. If you deviate from that changes are supposed to be made in writing with agreement by both parties. Sounds like you were informally way off the parenting plan, which sets out the requirements for where they go to school, church, doctor and dentist, who they live with and who may visit them. You apparently changed these things without a written agreement, which leaves you in a no-man's land.

If you want to make a change in the arrangement set out in the plan that she does not agree with, you can petition the court for a change in the parenting plan due to changed circumstances. if one of you is not following the parenting plan that is in place now the other can enforce it by filing an order to show cause with the court - this could result in finding the offending parent in contempt of court. A threat to do this may be effective in bringing about the desired change in behavior.

I suggest you talk to an attorney who can unwind this for you. He/she has to see the existing parenting plan and any written agreements you have made, and have a detailed history of the kids. He/she may be able to make a case for giving you custody based on the theory that it's not good to make changes in the kid's routine ("status quo," e.g. school, residence, etc) unnecessarily, even if the status quo was not the arrangement set out in the parenting plan. But don't delay, or she will have a new status quo to defend.

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10/14/13, 11:39 am

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