The Custodial Parent is the parent who is granted primary physical custody of a child after a divorce or separation.
Key Characteristics of a Custodial Parent in Texas
Primary Physical Custody
A custodial parent in Texas is typically the parent with whom the child primarily resides and spends the majority of their time. This parent is responsible for providing the child’s day-to-day care, including food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and supervision.
In addition to physical custody, a custodial parent may also have primary decision-making authority regarding significant aspects of the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. This includes the ability to make important decisions on behalf of the child without the need for consultation or agreement from the other parent.
Parental Rights and Responsibilities
A custodial parent has rights and responsibilities outlined in the Texas Family Code, which include the duty to provide for the child’s basic needs, ensure their safety and well-being, and promote their physical, emotional, and psychological development.
Custodial parents also have the right to access information and records related to the child’s education, healthcare, and welfare, as well as the right to participate in important events and activities in the child’s life.
- Tex. Fam. Code § 153.073: A parent’s rights at all times unless limited by court order.
- Tex. Fam. Code § 153.074: Rights and duties when the parent has the child.
The Non-Custodial Parent
The non-custodial parent who is not granted primary physical custody still has rights and responsibilities.
In many cases, the non-custodial parent may be required to pay child support to the custodial parent to help cover the costs associated with raising the child, including housing, food, clothing, medical care, and education.
Child support payments are typically determined based on the income of both parents, the needs of the child, and other relevant factors outlined in the Texas Family Code.
Parenting Time and Visitation
While the custodial parent typically has primary physical custody of the child, the non-custodial parent may still have rights to parenting time and visitation as determined by the court or agreed upon by the parties.
Visitation schedules may include weekends, holidays, school breaks, and other specified periods for the non-custodial parent to spend with the child.
Custody Decisions in Texas
In Texas, custody is determined based on the best interests of the child standard, which prioritizes the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being above the interests of the parents.
When making custody determinations, Texas courts consider various factors, including the following.
Child’s Needs and Preferences
Courts take into account the age, maturity, and preferences of the child, considering their ability to express their wishes and adapt to changing circumstances.
Courts assess each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs and promote their best interests, including factors such as stability, caregiving skills, involvement in the child’s life, and willingness to foster a positive relationship with the other parent.
Safety and Protection
The safety and protection of the child are paramount considerations in custody determinations, with courts examining any history of domestic violence, substance abuse, neglect, or other factors that may pose a risk to the child’s well-being.
Courts evaluate the ability of the parents to cooperate, communicate effectively, and make decisions in the child’s best interests, promoting a healthy and supportive co-parenting relationship whenever possible.
Relevant Law: Texas Family Code – FAM § 263.307.