The Rights of Non-custodial Parents

iStock_000000341949XSmall.jpgWhile any divorce can be a painful process, the loss of a parent's everyday access to his or her children can make it that much harder. But it is important to remember that non-custodial parent rights are also protected by the law. 

The court-ordered visitation schedule is a key part of non-custodial parent rights, as it details the specific days and hours the parent spends with his or her children. Wise parents will identify and work out as many potential conflicts as possible before the schedule is finalized, as it can easily be the biggest point of contention between ex-couples.

Things like holidays, school functions, afterschool sports and other activities can also be obvious sticking points, but phone and electronic communications are an important and often overlooked part of non-custodial parent rights. The non-custodial parent will want to make note of what kind of contact is permitted both in-person and over the phone or Internet, when the children are with their custodial parent. Addressing all of these points while still drafting the schedule can go a long way to head off future conflicts. 

Once the schedule is finalized, it will hopefully provide the structure for a low-drama relationship with the ex-spouse and the smooth exercise of non-custodial parent rights. If problems do occur with a non-cooperative parent, documentation is key. 

A calendar that tracks the successful and unsuccessful visitation appointments will be a key record if the parties go to court over visitation. If an appointment is canceled by the other parent, the non-custodial parent rights should be exercised as soon as possible afterward to make up for the lost time with the child or children. Attempts to be flexible and work with the other parent (even if they are uncooperative and the attempts are unsuccessful) should also be noted. 

If the non-custodial parent can point to a recorded history of uncooperative behavior and the denial of non-custodial parent rights, it will help their case considerably. Any negative behavior by the ex-spouse should be recorded in this way before the non-custodial parent meets with an attorney.

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