Non-Custodial Parents – How Do I Protect My Rights?

You may not be the custodial parent, but you still want to protect your right to regular visitation with your children. Obviously this works best if you have an amiable relationship with your ex, but let’s be real – that isn’t the most likely of situations.

If you want to ensure your visitation rights aren’t put at risk, you need to know the law, and make sure to hold up (and document) your end of the bargain to a T. To help you out, here are just a few of the tips shared in a great About.com Single Parents article on the subject:

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.

The article goes on to share five more must-know tips for non-custodial parents as well, definitely take a look. Remember that, in addition to providing for your children, a large part of protecting your visitation rights is covering your own behind. Keep records of finances, any major events, school progress, etc., you never know what you may be challenged on, but when you are you need proof to show the judge.