If you are a parent who does not have legal custody of your child, you may be wondering what rights you have and how you can stay involved in your child’s life.
Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make major decisions about your child’s welfare, such as education, health care, religion, and extracurricular activities.
Physical custody is the right and responsibility to provide a home for your child and take care of their daily needs.
Parents can have joint or sole custody of their child, which affects their rights and responsibilities.
The parent without legal custody, or the non-custodial parent, may still have some rights and obligations, depending on the law and the agreement.
The Right to Visitation
The non-custodial parent has the right to visitation, which is the time they spend with their child.
Visitation can be supervised or unsupervised, depending on the case.
The court will order a visitation schedule that says when, where, and how often they can see their child.
The visitation schedule should be based on the best interests of the child, taking into account factors such as:
- The age and needs of the child
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- The distance between the parents’ residences
- The availability and willingness of each parent
- The wishes of the child, if they are old enough to express them
- Any history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental illness
The non-custodial parent has the right to have their visitation rights respected by the custodial parent.
The custodial parent cannot interfere with or deny the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent without a valid reason.
If the custodial parent violates the visitation order, the non-custodial parent can ask the court to enforce it or modify it.
The Right to Information
This means that parents have the right to access their child’s medical or school records, as well as any other information that affects their child’s well-being.
The non-custodial parent also has the right to be notified of any major events or changes in their child’s life, such as:
- Illnesses or injuries
- Hospitalizations or surgeries
- Medications or treatments
- School progress or problems
- Awards or achievements
- Extracurricular activities or hobbies
- Trips or vacations
The custodial parent cannot withhold or conceal any information about their child from the non-custodial parent without a valid reason.
If the custodial parent refuses to share information about their child with the non-custodial parent, the non-custodial parent can ask the court to order them to do so.
The Right to Decision-Making
The non-custodial parent may have the right to decision-making, which is the right to take part in some or all of the major decisions about their child’s welfare, such as education, health care, religion, and extracurricular activities.
This right depends on whether they have joint or sole legal custody.
Joint legal custody means both parents share the right and responsibility to make major decisions about their child’s welfare.
They have to agree or go to court or mediation if they don’t.
Sole legal custody means one parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions about their child’s welfare.
The other parent has to respect their decisions.
They may still have some say in routine decisions, such as bedtime, meals, or clothing, if they affect their child’s well-being.
The Right to Support
This means that they have the right to receive or pay child support payments, depending on their income and expenses.
Child support is the money that one parent pays to the other parent to help cover the costs of raising their child. Child support can include expenses such as:
- Food and clothing
- Housing and utilities
- Health care and insurance
- Education and childcare
- Transportation and entertainment
The court will usually order a child support amount that is based on the state guidelines and the best interests of the child. The state guidelines take into account factors such as:
- The income and earning potential of each parent
- The number and needs of the children
- The amount of time each parent spends with the children
- The standard of living of the children
- Any special circumstances or needs of the children
The non-custodial parent has the right to pay or receive child support payments in accordance with the court order.
The custodial parent cannot refuse or reduce the child support payments without a valid reason.
If the custodial parent does not comply with the child support order, the non-custodial parent can ask the court to enforce it or modify it.
Being a parent without legal custody does not mean that you have no rights or responsibilities regarding your child.
You may still have some rights and obligations, such as visitation, information, decision-making, and support.
These rights and obligations depend on the state law and the custody agreement.
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