Establishing, understanding, and navigating Texas parental rights can be stressful for parents due to the complex legal nature of such matters. Parents who are facing a custody battle or who are currently working with a co-parent to determine custody will likely have many critical family law questions. These questions are crucial in determining the best child custody options for parents that will directly affect the wellbeing of the parent-child relationship.
What Is a Non-Custodial Parent?
The first step in understanding non-custodial parental rights is identifying what “non-custodial parent” means. Under Texas law, a non-custodial parent is also referred to as a possessory conservator, which means that the non-custodial parent does not have primary custody of the child or children but retains legal rights to visitation and more.
Just because non-custodial parents do not have primary custody of the child or children doesn’t mean that only fathers can be non-custodial parents. In fact, any parent can be deemed a non-custodial parent depending upon his or her unique circumstances and how the conservatorship will affect the wellbeing of the child and the parent-child relationship.
Non-Custodial Parental Rights
Under Texas law – unless parties agree otherwise – the Standard Possession Order determines the legal rights of non-custodial parents based on their proximity to the child.
When parents live within 100 miles of each other, the non-custodial parent is entitled to:
- Visitation on the first, third, and fifth weekends of every month
- Visitation on Thursday evenings each week
- Alternating holidays (such as Thanksgiving every other year)
- An extended period of time (30 days) during the summer vacation
When parents live more than 100 miles apart, the non-custodial parent is entitled to:
- The same weekend schedule as listed above or it can be reduced to one weekend per month
- No mid-week visitation
- Alternating holiday schedules remain the same as above
- The non-custodial parent has the child(ren) every spring break and for a longer extended period in the summer (42 days)
Adhering to Rights
It is important that non-custodial parents uphold their responsibilities to their child or children. If they do not, they may not only damage their relationship with their child or children, but the conservator can also take additional legal action against them.
When parents go to court to determine child custody, the court gives orders regarding custody as well as a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent to honor their right of access to the child or children. It’s crucial that the non-custodial parent adhere to any and all court orders regarding custody and visitation, including returning the child to the custodial parent according to the terms specified in the final court order.
Child support can be one of the more contentious issues between parents. Based on the financial information provided by both parents, the court will order the non-custodial parent to pay an amount to the custodial parent to support the child or children. While parents may disagree, the non-custodial parent must continue to pay the court-ordered amount on schedule. Should a non-custodial parent wish to adjust their child support obligation, they can and should contact a family law attorney to review the court’s orders and determine the best course of action moving forward.
Request Appropriate Reviews
A family court judge or jury can use a plethora of information from both parents to properly determine the final court orders. This being said, life is unpredictable, and situations can and do change over time. When there is a significant change in income, job, or living situation, it is important that the non-custodial parent work with an experienced family law attorney to modify existing rights and obligations.
Brazoria County Attorneys for Non-Custodial Parents
Navigating parental rights can be frustrating, confusing, and stressful for parents. The dedicated family law attorneys at Terry & Roberts are committed to serving as advocates for their clients’ parental rights and the wellbeing of all minor children involved in family court proceedings. If you are a non-custodial parent and/or have questions regarding your legal rights as a parent, contact us today to learn more.