rights of a non custodial parent rights of a non custodial parent RIGHTS OF A NON CUSTODIAL PARENT 146405996 0 final 300x300You already know that it can be a difficult task if you are a non-custodial parent trying to navigate California’s child custody laws. It’s essential to understand the distinctions between physical and legal custody and the elements that play when the court establishes child custody orders in order to understand the rights of a non custodial parent.

As we have discussed before, there are legal custody and physical custody, joint, and sole custody. When joint legal custody is awarded, each parent has equivalent rights and duties for important decision-making. Physical custody, the time they spend with each parent, refers to where the child lives. A custodial parent is a parent who lives with the child most of the time. Non custodial parent takes the children during weekends and/or some days during the week.

When California court determines the custody of a child, the judge considers what is in the best interest of the child giving both moms and dads chances for contact with the child. The California court will typically award joint physical custody to both parents unless one parent can prove it is not in the child’s best interest.

The California law regarding the rights of a non custodial parent is simple – both moms and dads have a right to constant and continuous communication with their kids unless the kid’s best interest requires otherwise. If domestic violence, child abuse, child neglect or substance abuse on the part of one parent is would change the visitation and custody.


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1. Visitation as ordered by the court. 2. If no court order in place, visitation should be agreed upon by the parents. If any problems following such an informal agreement, the court order should be made. 3. Be fully engaged in the children’s life – access to school’s records, medical records, extra-curricula activities. 4. Rights to spend some portion of children’s vacations/holidays by court order or agreement. 5. Rights to reconsider visitation schedule if any significant changes in circumstances. 6. Rights to report on the custodial parent if there are some facts indicating the children are not safe or in danger while they are with a custodial parent


How can custodial parents interfere with the rights of a non custodial parent?

Planning activities with children on the visitation date and time of the non-custodial parent without the consent of the non-custodial parent.

Refusing to comply with pick-up and drop-off times and postponing the child’s exchange with the non-custodial parent.

Encourage the children not to see the non-custodial parent or otherwise alienate them to reduce the ongoing and future visitation of the non-custodial parent.

To use children as a messenger and bring them into the divorce or custody proceedings, to make the time of the non-custodial parent less enjoyable with the children;

Making false allegations of abuse or neglect of children against a non-custodial parent;

Violating the joint legal custody rights of the non-custodial parent by not consulting with him or her and obtaining the consent of the non-custodial parent on important children’s decisions.

 There are some other ways in which parents interfere with the rights of a non custodial parent.

A non custodial parent has a right to demand the custodial parent to stop such interference. If the custodial mother or father refuses,  there are rights of a non custodial parent for the court intervention.

If the court-ordered child custody and visitation schedule does not work anymore – the rights of the non-custodial parent to Seek a Modification in California

If your California child custody orders have already been issued, remember that the initial custody order doesn’t necessarily end the process. As we have discussed in the article non custodial parent moving out of state changes in circumstances such as a custodial parent’s relocation or significant changes in circumstances, etc., may require the court to review the case and potentially issue a change.

For a change to an existing custody or visitation order, either parent (custodial or non-custodial) can petition the court. The court will review the case and any new, relevant variables, looking again at what is in the child’s best interest. In most cases, since the original child custody order issue, the parent petitioning the court to modify child custody will need to show that there has been a change of circumstances. OR the petitioning parent must reveal that the other (custodial) mother or father is wrongfully denying them (the non-custodial parent) their court-ordered visitation with the child.

What are the rights of a non custodian parent if a custodial parent is relocating?

Custodial parents in California are entitled to relocate and change their residence, except when the child’s welfare is affected. In the case of a relocation, the non-custodial parent has the right to challenge the current custody order. The court holds broad discretion once determining what’s within the child’s best interest and whether it might be within the kid’s best interest to stay with the non-custodial parent instead of moving with the guardian parent.

What rights a non custodial parent have if the child refusing to see him/her? 

The California Family Code had a significant change in 2012, relating to the child’s right to express their desire to stay with one of the parents. Under the Family Code 3042, a child might express in the court his/her preference in choosing a custodial parent when they are willing to do so. If the judge sees that the child is mature enough to articulate reasons why he is refusing to see one of the parents and if the judge would find such reason important for the child well being, the judge would take the child’s opinion into consideration.