Many parents in Texas may be dealing with issues related to divorce, separation and child custody for the first time, and they may wonder what exactly is meant by the term custodial parent. When used in the family court setting, this term generally means the person who has physical custody and spends the most time with his or her child. The custodial parent has the greatest responsibility for the child's development even when the noncustodial parent may be actively involved in the child's life.
When a formal child custody order is issued by the family courts following a divorce, it can establish one or both individuals as the official custodial parent. However, in cases where the issue of custody never came before the court, a single parent may not officially be considered the custodial parent, despite having sole physical custody of his or her child. In order to receive such a determination, it may be necessary for someone to officially file for custody even if the other parent is not involved.
Custodial parents generally have more personal time with their children even when their former partners have an active visitation schedule. This means a higher level of responsibility for the children, but it can also mean a higher level of reward as custodial parents can develop a close relationship based on daily contact. Of course, being the custodial parent can also be stressful and tiring as he or she often is responsible for discipline and other necessities that can be less enjoyable than the time the noncustodial parent, who is free of some responsibilities, spends with the children.
When someone is going through a divorce or seeking child support from a former partner, planning for child custody can be particularly important. Family law attorneys can help their clients seek custody of their children and help the children receive the support that they deserve.