Parental Rights & Parental Responsibilities: Know Yours

Child custody cases determine the rights and responsibilities of each parent.

Parental rights protect parents' ability to be part of their children's lives. Parental responsibilities ensure parents are doing their due diligence to raise their children.

Biological parents, adoptive parents, foster parents and legal guardians all have parental rights.

Learn more about the rights and responsibilities you have as a parent or guardian.

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What are parental rights?

Parental rights give parents and legal guardians the power to influence the child's upbringing. This includes the ability to spend time with the child and make decisions on their behalf.

Specific parental rights are:

Custodial parental rights are often more abundant than noncustodial parental rights. For example, the child could spend most of their time with the custodial parent while seeing the other on weekends only.

Some call the rights of the noncustodial parent residual parental rights. They can include:

  • Visitation
  • Input in big child-related decisions such as the child's adoption
  • The ability to request support for the child

When a court terminates a parent's rights, that person is no longer considered the child's legal parent. If a parent partially loses parental rights (e.g., they can't have visits with the child), they're still the child's legal parent. When both parents lose parental rights, the state assumes custody until another party comes into the picture.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is the duty of parents and legal guardians to provide proper care for the children in their custody.

Parental responsibilities include:

  • Providing a safe living environment
  • Protecting the children from abuse and other dangers
  • Paying child support as ordered
  • Fulfilling the children's basic needs (food, water, shelter)
  • Disciplining the children
  • Investing in the children's education
  • Knowing the children's interests
  • Spending quality time with the children

Parental responsibility laws

In the U.K. and U.S. states like Florida, child custody is called parental responsibility. In these areas, parental responsibility laws outline what persons with children in their care must do to care for and protect them. They also detail the criteria by which a judge determines who's the best fit to serve the child's best interest.

In the U.S., parental responsibility laws also refer to state laws that require parents to assume some responsibility for crimes committed by their minor children. Many states specify that these laws only apply in cases involving property damage, but others like California can hold parents accountable for anything their minor child does that causes injury or death as well.

Protecting your parental rights and tracking your responsibilities

The Custody X Change app offers all the tools you need to juggle your parental rights and responsibilities.

Create a parenting plan to lay out the details of your physical and legal custody arrangements and other important details like who's responsible for paying medical bills.

Custody X Change has all the tools to help you stay on top of all the many facets of parenting.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

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Explore examples of common schedules

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Organize your evidence

Track your expenses, journal what happens, and record actual time. Print organized, professional documents.

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Get an accurate child support order

Child support is based on parenting time or overnights in most jurisdictions. Calculate time instead of estimating.

Succeed by negotiating

Explore options together with visual calendars and detailed parenting plans. Present alternatives and reach agreement.

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Long distance schedules

Third party schedules


Summer break

Parenting provisions


How to make a schedule

Factors to consider

Parenting plans:

Making a parenting plan

Changing your plan

Interstate, long distance

Temporary plans

Guides by location:

Parenting plans

Scheduling guidelines

Child support calculators

Age guidelines:

Birth to 18 months

18 months to 3 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 13 years

13 to 18 years


Joint physical custody

Sole physical custody

Joint legal custody

Sole legal custody

Product features:

Software overview

Printable calendars

Parenting plan templates

Journal what happens

Expense sharing

Parenting time tracking

Calculate time & overnights

Ways to use:

Succeed by negotiating

Prepare for mediation

Get ready for court


Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

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