Exploring Social Security Cases and Outcomes

Understanding Your Rights As A Non-Custodial Parent

by Marie Caldwell

The custodial parent has the right to make all the major decisions for the children. They also have the responsibility of taking care of the well-being of the children. The custodial parent also has other rights such as:

  • Choosing which school the child attends
  • Choosing religion and religious services for the child
  • Make both small and large medical decisions for the child

Many of the rights granted a custodial parent may seem far-reaching to the non-custodial parent. For example, if the non-custodial parent is a strict adherent to a specific faith, then he or she likely wants the child raised in that faith. If the custodial parent chooses otherwise, then there's not much the non-custodial parent can legally do about it.

However, non-custodial parents also have rights, and the custodial parent does not have the right to deny them without just cause and a court order. There are general rights that non-custodial parents have, but it's also possible for them to receive specific rights under the right conditions.

The General Rights of the Non-Custodial Parent

In most cases, the non-custodial parent maintains these rights:

  • The right to visit the child or children
  • The right to have the child or children visit
  • The right to information about the child (health, education, etc.)
  • The right to petition the court

Except for the right to petition the court, it's possible for a non-custodial parent to lose these rights. The only real basis for a denial of these rights is if the non-custodial parent is considered a threat to the child in some way. The court can also put restrictions on non-custodial rights.

That right to petition the court does give non-custodial parents some additional avenues of pursuing more rights. For example, a non-custodial parent can request that they are a part of the decision making process if the custodial parent plans to move far away.

Non-custodial Parents can Petition for More Specific Rights

It's possible to ask for, and receive, more specific rights. If both parents agree to what rights the non-custodial parent should have, they can craft an agreement during the separation or divorce process. These rights will become a part of overall settlement. Since they're agreed on beforehand, they're far stronger than general rights. For example, one parent may relinquish full custody but stipulate that they are a part of deciding religious education for the child.

It's also possible to do something similar after the settlement. But it takes an agreement from both parents and then a court order to make it binding. Unfortunately, gaining any additional rights can often turn into an uphill battle. If the two parents aren't on good terms, it can turn into an almost impossible fight.

Speak to a Family Lawyer

The good news is that a family lawyer at a firm like Dukeshire Law Office can help. If you want to know what you can do to gain more rights and more access to your child or children, then speak to a family lawyer as soon as possible. A family law attorney can let you know what you can and cannot do.

They will also let you know how you can leverage your existing rights. Hiring a family lawyer can become even more important if the other parent purposely tries to keep you from exercising your rights.