Many parents find themselves in untenable situations because they don't fully understand their role as a noncustodial parent. If you're a noncustodial parent, you need to understand you have rights no one, not even another parent, can take away from you.

Noncustodial Parents Do Not Have the Same Rights as Custodial parents

Usually, the custodial parent has custody of the child. That means they have more responsibility for the child, and more decision making power as well. Even in cases where you share custody, the court will still typically assign someone as the custodial parent.

The roles of the respective parents in a custody case can vary based on state laws, as well as the specifics of the court order. In general, the custodial parent will have the following rights:

  • Seeing to the physical and emotional well-being of the child
  • Choosing schools for the child
  • Making medical decisions for the child

The custodial parent makes the major decisions. Even things like religious observance are often up to the custodial parent. The noncustodial parent may take issue with some of the decisions made by the custodial parent.

If those decisions are in the best interest of the child, there's not much a noncustodial parent can do. However, that doesn't mean noncustodial parents have no rights. You don't have to accept every decision made by the custodial parent.

Your Rights as a Noncustodial Parent

Your particular custody agreement may dictate your noncustodial rights. Generally, most noncustodial parents typically have the following rights:

  • You have or can have visitation rights
  • You have the right to important information concerning your child
  • You have the right to seek additional rights or clarification on your rights from the court

The court can restrict or expand your rights. But even if you lack certain rights, that ability to petition the courts gives you a clear avenue towards seeking a correction.

For example, you may want to take a more active part in some of the important decisions the custodial parent makes. You have the right to present that desire to the court.

Try Working Out Rights With the Other Parent

It's better to try to work out rights with the other parent before taking it to the courts. That's not always possible, depending on your personal situation and your relationship to the other parent. If you're seeking more access to your child, but find the other parent is blocking your attempts to parent, then you can always petition the court.

Understand that sometimes you have to fight for your rights. If you want or need additional rights, you should first speak to a family law attorney about your options. A custodial parent cannot legally block, deny, or upset your noncustodial rights. If that happens, a family law attorney can help you figure out what steps you need to take to exercise your rights as a noncustodial parent.