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Important concerns for noncustodial parents in Texas

Although a parent may not have the primary care and custody of a child, there are important rights to consider. The philosophy of the Office of the Attorney General is that children are better able to thrive when they are afforded the support and love of both of their parents. While the custodial parent typically makes decisions about day-to-day care and living issues, a noncustodial parent is afforded in most cases the legal right to information about a child's location and to spend time with that child.

A noncustodial parent is permitted to initiate a child support case. This may be beneficial in a situation in which access to a child has been impeded as the case will also address visitation issues. It is also important to understand that even if neither parent initiates a child support case, the OAG will do so if a custodial parent seeks public assistance. In such an instance, a custodial parent is required by law to cooperate in the child support case and in establishing paternity for a child.

Paternity issues can be a significant for reasons other than child support. Establishing paternity may be important to the mother of a child because it establishes a legal relationship, assigning legal responsibility to a father. For a father, established paternity is also important in establishing legal rights to care for a child. A child may benefit from emotional and legal benefits when paternity is established. A father who is not married to a mother may want to act to establish paternity even before a baby is born to protect his rights related to issues such as adoption and custody.

A noncustodial parent may not be aware of issues such as school performance or health problems with a child. However, that parent is entitled to know such information. In dealing with an uncooperative custodial parent, it may be helpful to work with a lawyer to address such issues.

Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Handbook for Noncustodial Parents ", October 26, 2014

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