5 Important Legal Rights of Noncustodial Parents

Rights of noncustodial parents

What are the Rights of Noncustodial Parents?

Parental rights vary from state to state. Many parents are therefore confused as to the rights of noncustodial parents vs. custodial parents in divorce and custody cases. In Oregon, a parent with sole legal custody typically has the authority to make all major decisions on behalf of the children, but the noncustodial parent still has the right to notifications of major decisions or developments in the lives of their children. The noncustodial parent also has the legal authority to make day-to-day decisions while the children are in the care of the noncustodial parent.

What Rights Does the Noncustodial Parent Have under under ORS 107.154?

Oregon law codifies and details these informative rights in ORS 107.154, “Authority of parent when other parent granted sole custody of child:”

“Unless otherwise ordered by the court, an order of sole custody to one parent shall not deprive the other parent of the following authority:

(1) To inspect and receive school records and to consult with school staff concerning the child’s welfare and education, to the same extent as the custodial parent may inspect and receive such records and consult with such staff;

(2) To inspect and receive governmental agency and law enforcement records concerning the child to the same extent as the custodial parent may inspect and receive such records;

(3) To consult with any person who may provide care or treatment for the child and to inspect and receive the child’s medical, dental and psychological records, to the same extent as the custodial parent may consult with such person and inspect and receive such records;

(4) To authorize emergency medical, dental, psychological, psychiatric or other health care for the child if the custodial parent is, for practical purposes, unavailable; or

(5) To apply to be the child’s conservator, guardian ad litem or both.”

What Kinds of Parental Rights Does This Apply To?

Typically attorneys and judges focus on educational, medical, and religious decisions when looking at the decisions which should be within the authority of the custodial parent. For example, a custodial parent has the right to change where the child goes to school, whether nor not the child has a medical or dental procedure, and whether or not the child attends a church or religious services. However, a noncustodial parent has the legal right to know the name of the doctor or dentist, to receive all medial records concerning the child, to know where the child is going to church, and to know where the child is going to school to receive grades and status updates, and to participate in parent-teacher conferences.

What Other Parental Rights Do Noncustodial Parents Have?

In addition to the rights enumerated in ORS 107.154, noncustodial parents also have the right to parenting time (or what used to be called “visitation”). For more on that topic, please visit our parenting time page.

As a Parent, What Can You Do? What Should You Do?

If you are the custodial parent, it’s important to remember that you ultimately have the authority to make major decisions on behalf of the children, but you also must make sure the noncustodial parent is informed of all decisions. This is not only Oregon law, but it’s the right thing to do for the benefit of the child and their close and continuing relationship with the other parent. If you are the noncustodial parent, it’s important to remember that you still have the right to be notified of all major decisions involving your children, and even though the custodial parent is the tie breaker (in a manner of speaking), you are allowed– perhaps even encouraged– to share information with the custodial parent regarding a particular issue or course of action if it differs from the custodial parent’s information, and to voice your opinions, concerns, and preferences to the custodial parent.

Many parents think of “winning” sole legal custody vs. “losing” it. If both parents are engaged and willing to participate in a dialog about the children, the children win.

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