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Responsibilities of the Custodial Parent

A custodial parent is the one who has the sole physical custody of the child or the one with whom the child lives with for the most part.

Custodial parenting involves a lot of responsibility which is just similar to any other aspect of being a dad or mom. Even if the parents of the child are on good terms, it is still a good idea to consider other options when it comes to the custody of the child and know and learn the law before one would need it. 

Other than the basic duties that a parent should give to a child such as providing the primary needs, rearing the child into becoming a better citizen and of course, loving them and making sure they are well taken care of, the following are some duties and responsibilities that a custodial parent should do:

Consider the Best Interests of the Child

The legal standard on which most, if not all, family court decisions are based are the child’s best interests. This means doing what is best to make sure that the child will grow happy and healthy. This may refer to placing the needs of the child above anything else. All actions of any parent, custodial or non-custodial should be based on this standard.

Discuss Important Matters with the Non-Custodial Parent

Having joint custody requires the custodial parent to discuss with the non-custodial parent matters that significantly affect the child. This includes change in residence or where to send the child for school.

Raising a child is no easy task and the non-custodial parent should be involved in every step of the way.

Honest discussions between the two parents regarding their take on handling different issues that result from raising children is the key to a good parenting plan. This allows both parents that they are on the same page when it comes to raising the child.

Monitor Payment for Child Support and Advise Non-Custodial Parent About Major Expenses

Keeping record of child support payments is helpful especially when there is a need to request for them as evidence in court.

Regarding major expenses that can possibly be incurred by the custodial parent, like child care or extraordinary medical expenses, both parents should talk before incurring any major expense.

It is in the best interest of a child that both parents are stable financially. The custodial parent has the duty to first make sure that the non-custodial can pay for any major cost before actually incurring them because this is the responsible thing to do. 

Follow the Schedule for Visitation of the Non-Custodial Parent

Custodial parents should come up with a parenting plan to be sure that there is a set schedule for the visitation of the non-custodial parent. 

If there is no schedule agreed upon, a court may be the one to provide a visitation schedule that is convenient. If the visitation schedule needs to be a changed, the custodial parent should inform the non-custodial parent in advance.

It is best that you consult with a lawyer if you have any issues or doubts as to the roles and responsibilities of a parent to the child. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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