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The many meanings of "custodial parent"

Today I Learned: The term "custodial parent" has yet another distinct meaning on top of the five I already knew about. Some of these are almost but not quite the same as each other. Pay attention, there will be a quiz later.

"Custodial parent" can mean:

1. The parent who has physical responsibility for a child in question at a particular instant in time, used when talking about custody schedules.

2. The parent who has the majority of the physical custodial instants in the sense of #1 when compared to a co-parent, across some predetermined regular time period which is context dependent.

3. A parent who has physical responsibility for a child all of the time ("sole physical custody"), except when delegated to others or during visitation with the other parent.

4. The parent who receives net nonzero child support from a co-parent for one or more children. (Terminology used by California Department of Child Support Services.)

5. The parent at whose home the child in question sleeps a majority of the nights in a year, to amount to at least 1/2 of the nights in a year (rounding up), or if the parent is not at their regular home on a particular night, then the child either sleeping at their regular house or sleeping where the parent is counts. (IRS rules for form 2441). Note this can be different from #2. Also there are special rules for parents who work nights.

6. The parent with the legal right to make educational, medical, and other major decisions about a child ("legal custody").

The "noncustodial parent" is the parent who is not a custodial parent. (Both parents can be noncustodial in the sense of #5, and a parent can be "noncustodial" in the sense of #4 but "custodial" in senses 1,2,3,5, and 6. And of course with multiple children, one can be both custodial and noncustodial with respect to different children simultaneously for all of these senses.)

[Originally published on Google+]

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