Can A Non-Custodial Parent Take A Child During Non-Visitation Hours?

Law Blog

The custody of children between two parents is often a complicated matter and one that is not limited to only divorced couples. Custody is also decided upon by couples who co-parent but are not married or living together. There is a difference between having legal custody of a child and physical custody of a child, and you might be wondering if the non-custodial parent is allowed to take the child during non-visitation hours?

The Differences Between Legal and Physical Custody

In order to know if the non-custodial parent is able to take the child during non-visitation times, you need to understand the difference between legal custody and physical custody of the child. Physical custody means the child lives with you on a permanent basis. The courts may have declared who the child can live with, but this is not always the case. If a child simply lives with a parent after a divorce and both parents agree to it, then that parent has physical custody.

Legal custody can be interchanged with joint custody and this means that both parents are legally responsible for the child. Both parents must pay for the child's needs and both parents can get equal time to spend with the child. In some cases, the child may live at both parent's residences but this isn't always the case. Legal custody also can limit when the non-custodial parent can see the child if the custodial parent deems it fit.


It is traditional that a child will live with a single parent instead of going back and forth between the two households. This means that the parent the child lives with has physical custody and can dictate where the non-custodial parent can take the child. The parent who does not have physical custody of the child can't take that child out of the country, for example, on vacation without permission from the parent who has physical custody.

Parents can decide how often the non-custodial parent can visit with the child and this is usually once a week and every other weekend, but it really is up to the parents to decide what is best for their child. The non-custodial parent usually can't just drop in and take the child whenever they would like to without advance notice and permission.

In rare instances, if a parent has taken a child out-of-state or not brought the child back at the designated time, that parent can be charged with parental kidnapping. It is always wise to speak to a child custody lawyer, like those at Hart Law Offices, PC, if you have any custody issues and keep, an open conversation between both parents.


27 June 2017