Custodial Parent Responsibilities of Their Children

A custodial parent is a primary parent who shares a home with the child. Typically, this means that a court of law has given primary legal or physical custody to one of the parents, the parents have reached an informal agreement, or there is only one parent involved in the child’s life.

Custodial parenting involves a lot of responsibility, including taking care of the child's physical and emotional needs and making all the major life decisions for them. Even if you are on good terms with your ex it's a good idea to know the law before you need it. Custodial parents should consider the following legal tips to understand the responsibilities of having legal and physical custody of a child.


Stick to a Visitation Schedule

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Custodial parents should develop a parenting plan with the non-custodial parent to ensure there's a set visitation schedule.  Additionally, a court may impose a convenient visitation schedule in the absence of a parenting plan. If there needs to be a change to the visitation schedule, a custodial parent should give the non-custodial parent as much advance notice as possible.


Track Child Support Payments

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If you have child support payments make sure you keep a record of payments. If you need to request back child support payments in court, proof of payments received can be a requirement in court. 


Consult the Non-Custodial Parent on Important Matters

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If you have joint custody of your child, your ex should be consulted on all meaningful issues affecting your child. Raising your child is still a team sport and your ex should be involved. Having frank discussions about how you both want to handle the various situations that arise in raising children can help you create a parenting plan. This plan allows you to both know you're on the same page even when you're not in the same place.


Best Interests of the Child

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The best interests of the child are the legal standard by which all family court decisions are made. It refers to doing what is best to ensure that the child grows up healthy and happy. Best interests of the child refer to parents placing the needs of their child above all else, something good parents already do.

The child’s need to live in as stable of a home environment as possible is paramount to the success of a joint custody arrangement.


Inform the Co-Parent Before Leaving the State With the Child

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If you decide you want to relocate with your child, you have to discuss it with the non-custodial parent first. Think about how you would feel if your ex took your child and moved away without telling you? Probably, not great. Additionally, a non-custodial parent may initiate a change in child custody as a result of the custodial parents' relocation.

A court will consider several factors prior to agreeing to a relocation. On the other hand, if a custodial parent would like to take a vacation with the child, the court may stipulate in the court order that the non-custodial parent should still be informed.


Consult the Non-Custodial Parent Before Incurring Major Expenses

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If your ex is required to cover half of the extraordinary medical expenses or child care expenses, you should talk to them before you incur a major expense. It's in your child's best interest that both of their parents are financially stable.

Making sure that your ex can cover major costs first is the responsible thing to do. This doesn't mean you don't have to make large purchases, it could mean something as simple as delaying the purchase until payday.

By Debrina Washington
Debrina Washington is a New York-based family law attorney and writer, who runs her own virtual practice to assist single parents with legal issues.