What Are The Responsibilities Of A Custodial Parent?

After divorce, child custody is crucial, especially if you have children. When a parent is granted custody, there are a lot of responsibilities that they need to shoulder. So, all the parents should know about them before settling for a child custody arrangement. You can also take advice from your child custody attorney.

Who Is A Custodial Parent?

The term “custodial parent” means that any parent, either mother or father, has primary or sole custody of the child and is also the parent with whom the child spends most of his/her time.

Primary custody is the custody in which both parents can take care of their child, after divorce, but one parent has the upper hand in deciding where the child lives, what will be the visitation time of the other parent and so on.

Sole custody, on the other hand, is when a single parent is responsible for everything that their child needs. From A to Z, all the things are handled by the single parent alone.

A custodial parent is also responsible for taking care of the child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. In simple words, a custodial or primary parent is responsible for the child’s needs of all kinds.

A custodial parent also has to be physically present in the child’s life and make important decisions, otherwise, it’s not applicable. There is a condition of the parent being physically present, to qualify to be a custodial parent.

Who’s going to be the custodial parent is decided by the court, after a divorce when cases of child custody are handled. The court decides, based on evidence and the living conditions of both the parents.

Responsibilities Of A Custodial Parent

Now that you know what a custodial parent is, here are some key responsibilities that fall on their shoulders. However, these may be different if you go for joint custody. So, consult a family lawyer Fairfax VA for help.

Medical Care

First and foremost, as a custodial parent, you are responsible for any kind of medical aid, provision of care, and any other required medical assistance if the child needs it. Medical care is valid for parents whose child has a chronic or terminal disease and they need to take care of him/her.


The next thing that you are responsible for, as a custodial and a single parent, is the education of the child. Whether it’s homeschooling, preschool, elementary, middle, or high school, or your child going to college, you need to bear the expenses. You can’t stop or convince the child from not learning or going for a higher education.

Yes, you can opt for reasonable options, if things aren’t in your budget, but you can’t halt education, just because you can’t finance it. That’s something that a lot of people can get confused by.

Along with education, you also need to help your kid out with homework and tutoring him/her. This is also non-negotiable and if you don’t have the time to do it, then you need to hire a tutor for the kid because getting an education is one thing, and making sure that your kid gets everything is an entirely different thing.

Helping The Child Stay Presentable

Another thing that you need to take care of, and this shows how much effort you’re putting into your child’s upbringing, and that’s the way you make yourself look and feel. They should always be neat and have clean clothes to wear.

You can’t just expect a child to look after him/herself if they’re still young, so you need to do that, as the custodial parent. You also need to make sure that you’re buying your child appropriate clothes and dressing them up properly.

This doesn’t mean that you need to max out your credit cards and buy out an entire mall full of clothes, but you still need to be able to provide necessities like clothes to wear and proper hygiene, so that you know and everyone knows that the child is well taken care of.

Providing Basic Transport

As the custodial parent of the child, you also want to provide transport for your child. Whether it’s for going to school, to a friend’s house, or for extracurricular activities, you need to step up and show up for your child.

If you don’t have transport or a car to take your child to and from places, then you need to get a school bus or a different mode of transportation. You can’t prevent the child from extracurricular activities just because you don’t have the means to take your child there and pick him/her up.

Usually, this is something that’s looked over in custody cases, that a parent needs to be able to meet all kinds of needs when it comes to their child. It’s non-negotiable and crucial for the parent to be able to provide all of these things for their kid.

Taking Care Of The Child’s Well-Being

This is also another important thing to cover. Your child has needs, they’re developing and they’re constantly thinking about things. Their brain is developing and they will have loads of questions. So, you need to ensure that you’re putting your kid at ease by improving your communication with them and explaining things to them that are not only nurturing but better for children of their age. You don’t want to put the well-being of your child in danger and you want to do everything you can to protect them from all kinds of negativity and vice.

Bringing up a child is nothing less than a mean feat, but you need to understand your responsibilities as a parent so that your child can understand different values and morals and figure out the difference between right and wrong. You don’t want to tarnish the image, perspective, or mindset of your child, because that can be detrimental.

Navigating Through Meetings With The Other Parent

If you’re the primary custodial parent and the other parent has visitation rights, then you need to ensure that the child gets to meet the other parent too. You need to facilitate the meetings and follow court orders when the other parent requests to meet their child.

As much as you don’t want to, for many reasons, you still need the other parent to be present in the life of the child, to make things as normal as they can be in this situation. So, whenever there’s a visitation date, you will need to follow through with it.

Taking Care Of Necessities

As your child is growing, so will the necessities. Your child might have different needs and they might need more privacy, as they reach the age of adolescence. You need to, within a certain limit, increase the necessities too, but again, you don’t want to spoil them, by any means.

The necessities of teenage girls and boys include getting a phone, but also having discipline with using it, a different room, more freedom with curfews, and consequences of not following through, like grounding, etc. That’s the way to normally deal with things like this.


A custodial parent has a lot of responsibilities when it comes to taking care of their child and ensuring that they have everything they need. This guide will help you in understanding said responsibilities. If you can manage these, then hire a child custody lawyer Fairfax VA to find ways for winning child custody.

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Custodial Parent?

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