Parent Rights After Divorce

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Father dancing with his daughter in the living room.
You might be a non-custodial parent, but you still have a right to spend time with your child.

Even if you weren’t granted custody by a judge, you still have the right to spend time with your children as part of parental rights after divorce. However, the circumstances of that arrangement can vary wildly from case to case. The courts want what’s in your child’s best interest. If you, as a non-custodial parent, do anything that could jeopardize your child’s safety or well-being, or you fail to show up on time and as scheduled, the courts have an obligation to protect your children. In certain cases, the court may order supervised visits or take other protective measures.

If a non-custodial parent is having his children stay the night, you should prepare your home ahead of time. Be sure to have your child’s favorite toys, foods, and games available. You should also make sure the children have places to sleep and privacy. 

Put Your Arrangements In Writing

It’s often in the best interest of everyone involved to put down your arrangements in writing. This will allow all parties to be clear on what to expect. In a perfect world, parents will work to resolve any issues that may arise. If you can’t solve your problems amicably, you should seek the advice of a family attorney. An attorney may also be helpful if a parent wants to file for a change to a current child custody order.

Parents who are interested in expanded custody or visitation rights could ask a judge to modify an existing child custody order. A parent may also be able to ask a judge to put an end to supervised or limited visitation rights after completing a treatment program or complying with other court orders. Legal counsel can help a client retain consistent access to their children, whether in person or through digital tools.

Your Parental Rights After Divorce

Before a divorce, both parents have equal rights to make decisions about their children. These decisions can relate to where the children will live or go to school. This usually does not change after divorce. Parents may no longer live together. However, the law typically provides both parents with equal legal rights to be actively involved in their children’s lives.

Knowing the implications of legal and physical child custody and visitation is important to understand your rights as a parent after divorce.

Legal Custody

Not having child custody does not mean you will not be involved in the lives of your children. Custody can refer to legal custody or physical custody.

Legal custody means that you have the legal rights to be involved in decisions about your child such as where they will go to school and their medical care. Both you and your ex must agree on arrangements for care and access to the child. You still have parental responsibilities for your children and the right to be updated about your children’s activities.

Sole legal custody means that only one parent can make important decisions about the child. Joint legal custody means both parents are involved. Most often, the courts will award joint legal custody. This is because it is typically considered to be in the best interests of the child to have both parents involved in their lives.

However, the other parent may be found to be unfit to be involved in significant decisions regarding the child. This could possibly be due to substance abuse and addiction or poor mental health. In these cases, the court may give sole legal custody to one parent after a divorce.

Physical Custody

Physical custody of the child determines where they live and reside. In sole physical custody, the child will primarily reside with one parent, while the other parent has legal rights to visitation. The court may sometimes award joint physical custody after divorce where the child lives with each parent in turn. This could be a few days each week or half the year with each of the parents.

Sole Physical Custody

Sole physical custody means that the children stay with the custodial parent permanently. The noncustodial parent will get regular visitation rights. Children do not have to pack their bags or move houses regularly. This can add stability to their school routine and relationships with friends and neighbors.

However, sole custody can have a negative impact on the noncustodial parent’s relationship with the child. The noncustodial parent may not feel as involved in their child’s life because they don’t see them often. It can also be harder to bond and form a meaningful relationship with less contact.

The child may also express their wish to change the custodial parent as their needs may change as they age.

Joint Physical Custody

Joint physical custody can often allow the child to foster a strong relationship with either of the parents. This is because they will see each other more often and maintain contact. The court can impose a schedule for how the parents will share parenting time with their children if parents cannot come to an agreement. The time that the child spends with the father or mother does not have to be an equal split. Parents can agree to have the children stay with them on alternate months, weeks, or holidays.

Joint custody can often be a good option for children if the father and mother are on amicable terms even if they don’t like each other. However, the child may find themselves caught between both parents if the divorce was full of conflict.

It may also not be practical to have joint custody if the father and mother live far apart. If either of you has plans to move away, custody arrangements may also change. A divorce lawyer can help to advise you on your options for custody and rights as a parent after a divorce.


The court awards visitation when one parent has sole physical custody. This allows the noncustodial parent to have parenting time with the child to maintain their relationship. You and your ex can come to an agreement and decide on the appropriate visitation schedule. The schedule must be in the child’s best interests.

Standard possession schedules in Texas law also set out guidelines for the child to spend time with noncustodial parents. The schedule states that noncustodial parents have possession and access every alternate weekend, spring vacations in alternate years, and extended time during summer holidays. However, if parents can decide and agree on a schedule, the court will typically include it in the divorce decree.

Both the mother and father must follow the visitation schedule defined in the court order. If the parent with custody refuses to let the other parent see the children, or the noncustodial parent takes the children away without the agreement of the parent, the offending parent can be found in contempt in a family law court. There are exceptions to this when the parent has reason to believe that the child will be harmed or the children do not want to visit the other parent.

It’s important to get legal advice from a family law attorney if you’re facing an issue with the other parent interfering with your visitation rights.

Parental Rights Of Stepparents After A Divorce

A stepparent can develop a close relationship with their stepchildren with deep emotional ties. This often happens if the stepparent came in when the child was at a young age. However, as a stepparent, they can lose the legal rights to see their former stepchildren if they get divorced. The court will view them as a third party who is not a parent. This can result in contact being cut off.

Options For Stepparents

Stepparents have a few alternatives to resolve this issue. You can adopt your ex’s child before the divorce. This enables you to get all the legal rights that a biological parent normally enjoys. This can only happen if the other biological parent who is not active in the child’s life gives up their legal rights to the child. If the parent refuses to give up their rights, you can ask the court to terminate their rights. However, you must prove that the parent is not active in the child’s life, did not take care of the child, or is a bad influence. You may need to engage a divorce attorney for legal advice.

The second option is to seek legal custody. This may be an option if you can prove that you have a very close relationship with the child and are capable of their care. You could even get primary custody.

The third option for stepparents is to seek visitation rights. You may need to provide help for child care or pay child support as you will also have parental responsibilities. Many stepparents may go for this option.

Ultimately, judges will consider the child’s best interests. In many cases, cutting off contact between stepparents and children can have an emotional toll on the children. Finding out your rights as a stepparent after divorce can mean the difference between maintaining contact and having equal parenting time with the children, and losing your relationship with them. You do not have to give up custody of your stepchild after divorce if you feel that it is not in their best interests. Talk to experienced attorneys to find out your options and decide on the best course of action.

Child Support Rights

Under the divorce order, the court may order one parent to pay child support to the other. The state of Texas has guidelines on the maximum amount of child support that you or your ex are required to pay. However, judges consider a number of factors to determine the appropriate amount of support. Income is one of the most significant factors that determine child support.

You have the right to file an enforcement motion if your ex does not pay you the required child support amount on time.

What Rights Does A Divorced Father Have?

A father has equal parenting rights after divorce including rights to legal and physical custody of their children. In Texas law, the parent’s gender cannot be considered by the court when deciding who to award custody of the child to after a divorce. Judges will not start from the presumption that the mother will be more likely to provide better care for the child.

The Texas Family Code also states that divorce courts mainly have an interest in ensuring that the child continues a relationship with both the father and mother as that is usually in the child’s best interests.

A father may also be entitled to child support after divorce if he has sole physical custody, although the courts will consider other factors.

Enforcing Parental Rights

In some cases, you may have to engage attorneys to enforce your parenting rights after divorce in state courts. This can happen if your ex denies you these parental rights or does not comply with the terms of the divorce order.

If your ex is consistently late for child exchanges or plans activities with the children during your parenting time, you have to show evidence of their actions and that you attempted to keep up your side of the agreement like being at the appointed place at the appointed time. You can request a lawyer to file a motion to enforce on your behalf. Your ex will have to appear in court with your child and you can fight for equal parenting time.

If your ex threatens you and stops you from visiting the child during your parenting time, gather evidence. You can use it to have the court enforce your rights. You can also call the police to report the violation of your rights. While police officers can be reluctant to take action in what they see as a civil matter, you can use the police reports as evidence in court.

Your lawyer can also ask for an injunction if your ex is taking the child away and moving to another city or state without the approval of the court. If you want to modify the divorce decree, your lawyer can also help you to have these legal modifications approved especially if the father or mother is depriving you of your parenting time.

Contact Us For A No-Cost Case Review

In many divorces, children can be one of the most contentious issues. If you need help understanding and defending your parental rights, engage the services of the award-winning Family Law attorneys at Sean Lynch to help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law and can protect your parenting rights after divorce.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

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