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Legal Tips for Non-Custodial Parents

Meet Your Child's Needs as Well as Your Legal Obligations

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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:

1. Follow the Visitiation Schedule

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.

2. Follow the Supervised Visitation Schedule, if Applicable

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 covered during the visit.

3. Put the Best Interests of the Child First

A non-custodial parent should put the best interests of the child first.  Best interests of the child always includes putting the child’s needs 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.

4. Pay for Child Support

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 child care 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 proof of all payments made such as check stubs or receipts for purchased items. Additionally, a parent may pay child support via a direct debit from the non-custodial parent's pay, imposed on the court. 

5. Track Your Child Support Payments

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.

6. Seek Legal Assistance If You Can't Agree

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.

7. Plan Ahead for Visits

A non-custodial parent should plan for a child's visits by purchasing the child's favorite food items and snacks, ensuring 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. 

8. Prepare Your Home for Overnights

A non-custodial parent should prepare his/her 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, the non-custodial parent 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).

9. Pay for Extra Expenses

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 parents become too substantial.  Perhaps, both parents can split the payments.  However, if the non-custodial parent can not reach an agreement with the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent should consider a request a child support modification.

10. File for a Child Custody Modification, If Necessary

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 ot alter the agreement, if the court deems the agreement to be working.

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