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Non-Custodial Parent Responsibilities You Need to Know

If you’ve gone through a divorce in Texas and obtained shared custody of your child, it can be difficult to know how to establish new patterns and rhythms as a single parent. For non-custodial parents, it can be very challenging to know how to be involved in your child’s life.

You may not have your child living with you most of the time, but there are still parental responsibilities you will need to fulfill, according to Texas law. Fulfilling these non-custodial parent responsibilities is not only the right thing to do for your child, but it can also protect you from legal problems in the future.

Find out more about how you can play an active role in raising your child during this new season of being a parent.

4 Key Parental Responsibilities Under Texas Law

Both custodial parents and non-custodial parents are obligated to fulfill specific duties to their children by law. Four of the most significant responsibilities for a non-custodial parent in Texas include the following.

1. Develop a Relationship with Your Child

Ensure you make efforts to build a relationship with your child. This requires that you take advantage of your parenting time and keep in regular contact with your child in between that time.

Developing a relationship involves more than simply picking your child up when scheduled, however. It also means you spend time with them when you have physical custody of your child.

For example, parents who perform work duties through their visitation time while leaving their children in the care of others are not taking on this fundamental responsibility.

2. Participate in Decisions Affecting the Child

You and your ex-spouse are expected to participate in making joint decisions regarding the care and upbringing of your child. This means that both you and the other parent will need to discuss important decisions such as:

  • Major elective medical procedures.
  • Whether to raise the child in any particular faith tradition.
  • The extracurricular activities in which your child should participate. 

The court also expects that you and the other parent will attempt to reach an agreement on these and other issues in good faith before involving the court in disputes.

3. Pay Child Support and Other Expenses

As a non-custodial parent, you are obligated to support your child financially, which starts with making child support payments as ordered. Your obligation to pay child support is separate from your ability to visit with your child.

In other words, if you have been ordered to pay child support, you must continue to do so even if your visitation is suspended or the other party is not letting you see your child.

But your duty to support your child goes beyond paying child support. In most cases, your divorce decree will require you to help share the cost of certain expenses with your ex-spouse. 

For example, if your child needs braces, you will likely need to assist the other parent in paying for this expense in addition to continuing to pay child support.

4. Avoid Disparaging the Other Parent

Additionally, your responsibilities as the non-custodial parent include not disparaging the custodial parent. You should not talk about your ex-spouse in negative terms with your child or discuss your frustrations with the other parent in front of your child. 

Driving a wedge between the relationship your child has with the other parent can lead the court to limit your parenting time with your child and make other custody arrangements.

What Happens if You Don’t Fulfill Your Non-Custodial Parent Responsibilities?

Failing to fulfill your non-custodial parent responsibilities can cause physical, mental, or emotional harm to your child. As a result, a court takes allegations that these responsibilities are not being satisfied seriously. A court can:

  • Formally reprimand you
  • Restrict or reduce your visitation time with your child
  • Order you to complete parenting classes
  • Direct that you pay for the other party’s attorney’s fees if hearings are needed

The likelihood of the court imposing these or other sanctions increases if you have been previously warned about fulfilling your responsibilities.

Turn to a Seasoned Texas Family Law Attorney for Advice

It’s important to meet any non-custodial parent responsibilities you have as a non-custodial parent. Not doing so can result in your parental rights being reduced, and you may be found in contempt of court.

If you are unsure of your ability to uphold these responsibilities, or if you are concerned about the outcome of your child custody order, it is vital that you speak to a qualified family law attorney.

At Parker & Aguilar, our skilled team of family law attorneys can review your case and determine your options, including whether a child custody order can be modified.

We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, reach out to our offices ​​to discuss your child custody case.

You can reach our offices at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with one of our helpful attorneys. Let’s talk about your responsibilities as a noncustodial parent so you can establish a healthy relationship with your child during this new season.