Legal Rights of Non-Custodial Parents

A court of law will generally grant non-custodial parents generous visitation rights when a parent is not awarded primary child custody. Here are some legal tips for non-custodial parents.


Visitation Schedule

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It is extremely important for non-custodial parents to adhere to the visitation schedule set forth by the court.

If there is any reason why a non-custodial parent cannot adhere to the visitation schedule, the parent should start by trying to communicate the need for a change with the child’s custodial parent.


Supervised Visitation Schedule

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Supervised visitation may be considered supervised, court-ordered visitation with a third-party, which often takes place in a public area.

Non-custodial parents should make the best of supervised visitation by developing a routine with the children during visits. It might be helpful to develop special games and discussions that will ​be covered during the visit.


Best Interests of the Child

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A non-custodial parent should put the best interests of the child first. Parents should ensure children have a safe place to stay and food to eat during their visits with parents. Additionally, parents should work together as much as possible to ensure a smooth transition to both homes for the children.


Child Support

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Non-custodial parents who are charged with paying child support may set up an informal agreement with the child's custodial parent which would allow the custodial parent to receive child support via cash, check.

An informal agreement may also allow a non-custodial parent to pay a childcare facility directly or purchase items for a child such as food or clothing. If a non-custodial parent sets up an informal arrangement with the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent should retain the proof of all payments made such as check stubs or receipts for purchased items.

Additionally, a parent may pay child support via direct debit from the non-custodial parent's pay, imposed by the court.


Child Support Payments

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Non-custodial parents should track the child support payments made, specifically, if the non-custodial parent pays child support directly from his/her pay.

The parent should keep copies of paystubs. If a non-custodial parent needs a ​modification of child support payments, the non-custodial parent should seek the assistance of an attorney or file a modification of child support.


Legal Assistance

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If a non-custodial parent has an informal child custody agreement with the custodial parent, it might be best to put the agreement in writing.

If, however, a non-custodial parent cannot work out an agreement with the custodial parent, the parent should seek legal assistance in a court of law or with a qualified attorney.


Child Visits

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A non-custodial parent should plan for a child's visits by purchasing the child's favorite food items and snacks and ensure the child has activities to do and places to go such as sporting events, going to the movies and playing games.

It's important that a child feels as at home as he/she would if the child were in the custodial parent's home.



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A non-custodial parent should prepare their home for overnight visits. If the non-custodial parent has a separate room for the child, the room should contain some of the child's favorite toys or games. If the non-custodial parent does not have a separate room for the child, they should identify an area (i.e. sleeper sofa) where the child will sleep.

The non-custodial parent should prepare the area as best as possible to allow the child some privacy as well as the comforts of home (toys, games, snacks).


Extra Expenses

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Non-custodial parents who need to pay for additional expenses that exceed child support payments should start by speaking with the custodial parent if the payments become too substantial.

Perhaps, both parents can split the payments. However, if the non-custodial parent cannot reach an agreement with the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent should consider requesting a child support modification.


Child Custody Modification

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If the child support agreement no longer serves the non-custodial parent, the parent should seek a child custody modification in court. A parent should be prepared to discuss the reasons to support a modification.

However, a court may still decide not to alter the agreement, if the court deems the agreement to be working.

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