During a child custody proceeding, the state of Texas uses the legal terms non-custodial parent and custodial parent to make important designations about each of the child’s parents. If you are currently going through the process of determining custody of your child or children, then you may have questions about these distinctions.
Most importantly, both the non-custodial parent and the custodial parent have different rights and obligations. You need to know how this works so that you can arrive in the best possible situation to continue supporting your child(ren) after child custody is decided. I’ll break down this process, including providing you with more information on what non-custodial parent means according to Texas law.
How Child Custody is Legally Determined in Texas
To determine child custody, Texas courts presume that parents will share parental duties and rights. However, the parents aren’t required to share the duties equally. If the parents can’t come to an agreement on custody through mediation or themselves, a Texas court will make a determination.
Ultimately, the court will make a decision based on the child’s best interests. The court will consider several factors when making this critical decision:
- Each parent and child’s relationship
- The child’s health, welfare, and safety
- The parent’s health and residency
- The finances of each parent
- Whether there’s any evidence of child abuse or neglect
The court might also take steps to ensure that the child has continued and frequent contact with a certain parent. This goes for the parent who has shown they’re able to act in the child’s best interest despite whether they have custody or not.
After the court decides on custody according to the child’s best interest, the non-custodial parent and the custodial parent will be specific designations.
Non-Custodial Parent According to Texas Law
A non-custodial parent is a parent who is not assigned primary custody of the child. However, this doesn’t mean that the non-custodial parent loses their parental rights. This parent still plays a crucial role in the child’s life.
While the custodial parent will have the legal right to decide the child’s residency, the non-custodial parent still retains the legal right to spend time with the child and know their whereabouts.
You may have questions about whether the father is presumed to be the non-custodial parent by Texas courts. The answer is no. In fact, about 10 percent of non-custodial parents in Texas are mothers.
Any parent can be non-custodial based on the unique circumstances of each case. The ultimate decision goes back to the best interest of the child. That’s why the court carefully considers how the designation will affect the child’s well-being and their relationship with each parent.
Custodial Parent According to Texas Law
The custodial parent is the one granted child custody during a custody proceeding or separation agreement. The child will spend most of their time with the custodial parent at that parent’s dwelling place. They supervise and care for the child on a regular basis.
However, the court doesn’t have to award one parent sole physical custody to be considered a custodial parent. The parent assigned a bigger timeshare with the child is referred to as the custodial parent. Even in the most common assignment of joint physical custody, the parent with more time with the child is considered custodial.
A Comparison: Non-Custodial Parent vs. Custodial Parent
A non-custodial parent will have some parental rights in most cases and can still be included in parenting their child unless the non-custodial parent is legally prevented from having contact with their child for reasons such as abuse or violence. The court will determine this with input from law enforcement if there is a documented history of concerning issues.
In these special cases where one parent is granted sole custody, all of the responsibility for caring and raising the child falls on the custodial parent. Also, all of the child’s welfare decisions fall into the hands of this parent.
However, in standard cases, the non-custodial parent should still stay in contact with the child. A non-custodial parent can request a visitation agreement guaranteeing the ability to spend specific times and days with the child. The non-custodial parent can also communicate with the child through standard phone calls and video chats. It’s in the non-custodial parent’s best interest to request a formal court agreement for this kind of contact to stay within the boundaries of the child custody agreement without violating the custodial parent’s rights.
A custodial parent should respect any visitation agreements and encourage the child to initiate contact with the non-custodial parent when appropriate. The custodial parent should also keep the other parent informed about mundane, significant facets of the child’s life. The goal here is to ensure that the child receives all possible benefits of having both parents in their life. This is where the custodial parent can help put everyone in the best possible position to support the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent.
Work With a Family Law Attorney For Child Custody Support
Are you a father or mother expecting to be named a non-custodial parent in a child custody legal matter? You will want to get started right away working with an expert family law attorney. This way, you can find support throughout the duration of the legal process.
I practice family law exclusively so that I can provide dedicated support to each client that I serve. I currently help parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County navigate legal challenges with a child custody matter.
Find support for your legal case. Contact me today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to further discuss the meaning of a non-custodial parent and the specific circumstances affecting your case. I’m here to help during this challenging time for you and your family.