Each state varies dramatically on when a grandparent even has the ability to ask a court to order visitation. In New Mexico, there are four specific fact patterns that give a grandparent that ability to go to court, which we call standing. First, the biological parent is deceased or the child is being put up for adoption or the mother and father are currently undergoing a divorce or previously divorced, and there’s a visitation schedule in that divorce proceeding. Lastly, the mother and father were not married to each other but they had a parentage case either presently in the courthouse or a prior one with an existing visitation schedule.
The one situation that I get frequent questions about is: mother and father are still together as a couple, either married or unmarried, and they have cut off contact with the grandparents. If the mother and father’s relationship is intact and they both agree, or even one of them says, “I don’t want the grandparents seeing the grandchildren,” in that case there’s no way to get in front of a judge and override the parental decision to keep the grandparents out of the children`s life.
Mary Ann Burmester is a family lawyer practicing in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has more than 25 years of experience in family law. To learn more about Mary and her firm, NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC, visit www.nmdivorcecustody.com.