Non-Custodial Parent Laws
What Is a Non-Custodial Parent?
A non-custodial parent is the parent who does not have current, physical custody of the child in a child custody or child visitation arrangement. The parent who is with the child at the moment is usually called the custodial parent. In a child custody situation, this typically alternates back and forth between the parents according to the child custody order or according to the visitation schedule.
Alternatively, the non-custodial parent may refer to the parent who does not have legal custody of the child. Legal custody means that the parent has the legal authority to make decisions and conclusions on the child’s behalf. In most cases, this is the parent who has majority custody of the child (i.e., spends more time with the child).
What Authority Do Non-Custodial Parents Have?
As mentioned, the term "non-custodial parent" often refers to the party without legal rights to make decisions for the child. Using this definition, a non-custodial parent may have limited rights when compared with the custodial parent. Generally, the non-custodial parent may have rights such as:
- Rights to care for the child at the times and places allotted for them
- Rights to take the child to various locations (subject, of course to the terms set forth in the custody agreement)
- Rights to report any instances of abuse or neglect by the custodial parent (they may actually be obliged to make these types of reports)
Thus, the rights and responsibilities of a non-custodial parent will all depend on what the judge determines when issuing the child custody agreement in court. When the parent does not have physical custody of the child, they don’t have the authority to visit the child or take them with them if they aren’t authorized to do so.
Can Custody Arrangements be Changed?
Yes, absolutely. In situations where the custodial parent can’t fulfill their duties, it may be necessary to modify a child custody order. For instance, the court may decide to:
- Assign custody to the non-custodial parent
- Adjust the visitation and custody schedule
- Rewrite the terms of visitation and custody
- Terminate the legal rights of one parent
This all depends on the needs of the child and the capabilities of each parent. All child custody determinations are done in order to benefit the child first before the parents.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Child Custody Laws?
Child custody laws can be different in each region, and may also be applied differently depending on the circumstances. You may need to hire a qualified family law attorney if you need help with any child custody issues or related matters. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and guidance, and can help ensure that the child receives the most advantageous arrangement for their needs.
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Last Modified: 01-14-2014 12:25 PM PST
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