A custodial parent is the parent that has sole custody of the child, or the parent that the child(ren) spend the majority of their time with. Acting as the sole parent is a privilege and a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. 

Read on to learn what is means to be a custodial parent, including an explanation of your rights and responsibilities.

What Exactly Is A Custodial Parent?

When a couple with children legally separates or divorces, there are a few different things that may happen to the children. The two most common options are shared custody or having a custodial and noncustodial parent.

A custodial parent, as stated above, is the parent that the child spends most of their time with. Noncustodial parents rarely lose their parenting rights entirely, unless they are considered a serious danger to the child. Typically, the custodial parent is the parent who was the primary caretaker for the children before the household split up. Although, this is not always the case. The cost of raising children is a significant factor that parents have to account for. For this reason, children may end up in primary custody of the parent who earns more.

How Can Parents Work Together?

Co-parenting requires a herculean effort when it comes to communication. Inform the noncustodial parent if there are any upcoming trip or significant changes in location due to a move. 

Financial planning is a must. The court will set child support and alimony amounts, but there are other possibilities to consider. Both parents should discuss big ticket items – such as a car or college tuition – ahead of time.

Big ticket items like a first car or college tuition should be discussed well ahead of time. Additionally, have a contingency funds for events like medical emergencies.

Balance and share schedules as much as is practical. The most important schedule to share is the children’s school schedules. This way, if an emergency pops up or a future conflict arises, the noncustodial parent can still get the children to school.

What Do I Have Control Over As The Custodial Parent?

  1. The children’s education: The primary parent can make many choices regarding a child’s education. Charter, public, or private? Religious or secular? Depending on the arrangement, the custodial parent may have to consult with the noncustodial parent for approval. However, custodial parents many times do not have to check with their ex-spouse before making decisions.
  2. Medical care: While it is often considered fair to split medical costs, it may not always happen that way. Custodial parents are the primary force behind their child’s medical attention, and that is both a positive and a negative. As a custodial parent you have the peace of mind of knowing your child’s medical history. However, you also typically shoulder the immediate cost of bill. If your legal arrangement does not provide enough child support to pay medical bills and other expenses, it is best that you get it changed.