Legal Question in Family Law in New Mexico

Trying to get half custody

The father of my child (ex-boyfriend) has had full custody since our daughter was born on October 1, 1998.

As I have had visitaion every weekend for the last year. (According to his schedule)The reason being, I was young and had no means to support a child, now I have a job, very independent and I feel I can now take the responsibility of my daughter. At least half custody.

back in 1999 he tried relinquishing my rights before I was seeing the baby, I have filed a motion to modify this so it never went through and I now have a hearing set in a couple weeks. I spoke with an attorney because I know he is going to fight it and she advised me that basicly I have no chance in getting half custody because the baby is only 2. Is this true and should I look for a different attorney?

Asked on 10/04/00, 6:52 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

John Watson John Watson, Attorney at Law

Re: Trying to get half custody

You did not say what city your court case is in

and it makes a difference. Albuquerque, Santa Fe,

Clovis (and I think Las Cruces, Farmington and

Roswell) have some system set for for family mediation

where you can request the court appoint a mediator

to assist you and the child's father to reach a level

of agreement for definate and court ordered visitation.

Your note seems to indicate that visitation is only

on his terms. On the one hand a 2 year old child

cannot have the same visitation that an older child

can have or tolerate; however, the law will allow

a set amount of time and the law generally does NOT

favor only one parent being able to call the shots.

Parenting is a two way street. Being frank, and

not trying to belittle you, I will say that because

you are the mother you must have done something

pretty bad to have an infant child removed. From

the lawyer perspective (and this may have been where

the lady lawyer was coming from who you talked to)

that means that you are going to have a few more

hoops to jump through to prove to the judge or a

psychologist that you are a parent who is interested

in your child, that you want to parent and that

you CAN parent. What you will encounter is an

attitude of scepticism and you are going to have

to acknowledge to the judge that "yes" you DID have

problems in the past but that has changed (you will

likely have to point out WHAT has changed) and you

DO want to establish the relationship with your

daughter. The lawyer you saw may simply have seen

that your case will take a lot of time and money and

did not want to spend the time on a harder case.

Don't let that discourage you. Definately go see

another lawyer. There are plenty of lawyers so find

one who will see you for who you are and be willing

to help you take up the banner to be involved in

your child's life. As for how much time you may

have or get - look at this as a thing that is balancing

your desires, the child's father's wishes and the

needs of the child. There are lots of factors to

consider and the process is more of a step ladder

effect rather than an all or nothing approach. Just

like a baby, life comes in little steps. Be prepared

to do this case in little steps. Good luck to you.

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Answered on 11/02/00, 1:34 am

Robert Scott Robert L. Scott, Attorney at Law, P.C.

Re: Trying to get half custody

What do you mean by "half custody"? In New Mexico custody usually refers to the decisionmakeing power of the parents and the usual arrangement is "joint custody" where both parents must consult each other on important decisions for the child. If you mean visitation, or the time you actually have your child, then it will probably be difficult to get 50/50 time with a two year old. The Court generally feels that a child that young should not be forced to bounce back and forth between the parents. If you want to try for that arrangement, you will probably end up in Court Clinic where they will do an evaluation of the situation and make a recommendation to the Court.

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Answered on 11/02/00, 11:44 am

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