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Call us at: (505) 881-2566
2727 San Pedro NE • Suite 114 • Albuquerque, NM 87110

FAQs – Custody & Visitation in New Mexico

What’s the difference between custody and visitation?

“Custody” addresses whether one or both parents has the power to make decisions about the child whereas “visitation” covers when the child will spends time in each parent’s care.

What does “joint custody” mean?

Child custody means decision-making power, not when the children spend time with each parent. Parents most often receive joint legal custody in New Mexico.  Joint custody means that each parent has the right and responsibility to participate in making decision about five key areas of the child’s life such as:

  • Residence: If the child lives in New Mexico, then neither parent can move the child out of state or generally more than 50 miles from the current town without the consent of the other parent or a court order approving the relocation.
  • Religion: The religious practices the child followed (or did not follow) at the time of the divorce remains the same (i.e., one parent cannot unilaterally change the religious practices of the child even if that parent changes his/her own beliefs or practices).
  • Education / Day Care: If possible, the child should remain in the same school system, post-divorce. This includes private schooling, if the parents can still afford this option. If the child is in public school or home school, the child should still receive their education in that environment. A young child should also remain in the same day care or with the same after-school care giver as before the divorce when possible.
  • Non-emergency Medical Treatment: Both parents have the right to attend non-emergency doctor or dental appointments with the child and have the right to speak with the medical providers. The child should continue to go the same medical providers post-divorce as long as they are covered by the child’s insurance plan.

The “Status Quo” of the child is identified at the time of the divorce or legal separation for each of the five areas listed above. Neither parent can unilaterally change one of those categories without the agreement of the other parent or a court-order permitting the change. The goal of maintaining the Status Quo is to provide as much familiarity and consistency for the child after the divorce or legal separation as before.

little girl looking up at her dad confused

What if I want “sole custody”?

In rare instances one parent is granted “sole custody” which means he or she decides the Status Quo of the child and can make changes to any of the categories listed above without the consent of the other parent. If that parent has been granted true sole custody, they are also allowed to move out of state or even out of the country with the child without the other parent agreeing.  Because this is a serious reduction in the ability of a parent to raise a child, the parent asking for sole custody has a high burden to prove to the judge why it is not in the child’s best interest for both parents to have decision-making power.

How is the visitation schedule determined?

The timesharing schedule of a child depends on who the primary caretaker of the child was before the divorce. The judges considers the “best interests of the child” in deciding the schedule.  Very young children usually cannot handle well spending significant time away from the parent with whom they are primarily bonded. This does not mean the child does not love both parents; it means the child depends on one parent to meet most of his or her daily needs.  Older children sometimes can handle spending equal time with both parents. There is no “default” visitation schedule any more, even though it was common in previous times for the children to spend the majority of their time with the mother and every other weekend with the father, plus sharing holidays.

If we have a 50-50 timeshare, there’s no child support, right?

Wrong.  Only if both parents have the same gross income, and pay the same amount for the children’s health insurance and day care expenses, and spend the same amount of time with each parent, will the worksheet show no child support is owed by one parent to the other.

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I appreciate everything Mary Ann and her team have done for my children, and myself, which entailed so much. Everyone’s support was wonderful, and so needed, during such a brutal, emotional, and heartbreaking time.   M.F.
2017-03-31T16:04:38+00:00
I appreciate everything Mary Ann and her team have done for my children, and myself, which entailed so much. Everyone’s support was wonderful, and so needed, during such a brutal, emotional, and heartbreaking time.   M.F.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your representation. I can’t tell you how confident and comfortable I felt having you represent me and the peace of mind that brought was worth more than I could...
2017-03-31T16:22:11+00:00
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your representation. I can’t tell you how confident and comfortable I felt having you represent me and the peace of mind that brought was worth more than I could have imagined.  I never once felt that you were working without my best interests in mind and contrary to my ex-husband’s experience, the expenses incurred were reasonable and fair, and I believe you were diligent about not incurring additional costs unless they were absolutely necessary.   A.N.

The day I walked into your office I did not believe that my life would take such a toil on my life, the fact and promise you made that you would never leave my side at any point even when...
2017-04-03T10:55:47+00:00
The day I walked into your office I did not believe that my life would take such a toil on my life, the fact and promise you made that you would never leave my side at any point even when I just couldn’t find the strength to open emails because it was so painful to read has defined a new beginning for me.  I am back in NM and I will never look back thinking that he got the best of me, because you kept your promise to me and because I am doing it; I am living life again!D.A. D.A.

Going through a divorce is an agonizing process, the emotional distress was overwhelming at times and the financial implications only exacerbated my anxiety. On top of that I had to hire a lawyer and hope that they would be professional,...
2017-04-03T10:56:15+00:00
Going through a divorce is an agonizing process, the emotional distress was overwhelming at times and the financial implications only exacerbated my anxiety. On top of that I had to hire a lawyer and hope that they would be professional, reliable and honest. I found that at NM Divorce & Custody and can’t express how fortunate I felt to have had Mary Ann Burmester’s representation in what I thought was going to be a quick divorce. Mary Ann is sharp, knowledgeable and honest. She gave me recommendations that I felt comfortable in taking and I never felt her representation didn’t have my best interests in mind. Mary Ann was an excellent advocate when my husband’s lawyer was requesting things from me that were completely unnecessary and had no purpose other than escalating expenses. She and her team were on top of things from day one, leaving me no doubt I’d made the right choice. I’d recommend them to absolutely anyone. A.B.

I want to give NM Custody & Divorce LLC a HUGE THANK YOU, for your professionalism, but most of all your patience and kindness. My experience with your firm was amazing start to finish, in such a difficult time in...
2017-04-03T10:56:42+00:00
I want to give NM Custody & Divorce LLC a HUGE THANK YOU, for your professionalism, but most of all your patience and kindness. My experience with your firm was amazing start to finish, in such a difficult time in my life, your team made me feel supported not just legally but with your concern. Ms. Burmester is an amazing women and attorney her and your firm have my highest recommendation!!   C.S.