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Who Is the Custodial Parent?

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Who Is the Custodial Parent?

In a child custody and visitation arrangement, the “custodial parent” is the parent that has custody of the child at the time in question. Naturally, the custodial parent will change according to the custody or visitation schedule in place.

For instance, if the father has custody on weekends, they are considered the custodial parent for the weekend. During the regular week, when custody shifts back to the mother, the mother would then be considered the custodial parent.

Note that there the term “custodial parent” often refers to physical custody of the child.

What Does a Custodial Parent Do?

The custodial parent is entrusted with the task of caring for the child during their allotted time for custody. This means:

  • Providing food and shelter for the child
  • Being responsible for picking up and transferring the child to and from the other custodial party
  • Protecting the child from harm and dangers
  • Providing other basic needs during the time of custody

The amount of time spent with the child will depend on the custody order. Custody orders can be changed and modified to reflect new changes in schedules or other issues.

Is Legal Custody the Same as Physical Custody?

The term “custodial parent” often refers only to physical custody of the child. There is also the concept of “legal custody”. Legal custody refers to a party’s ability to make informed legal choices on behalf of the child, such as where to send them for school, which religion they may partake in, and legal issues such as name changes on documents.

Generally, only one parent has legal custody. However, as mentioned, physical custody changes continuously according to the schedule. This means that only the legal parent can make legal choices for the child, even if the other parent has physical custody at the moment.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Child custody and visitation laws can often be complex, and they will vary according to state. You may need to hire a lawyer if you need assistance with any family law issues. A skilled attorney in your area can provide you with valuable legal advice, and can represent you during any court hearings or meetings.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-19-2016 10:13 AM PDT

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