The custodial parent is the parent with whom a child resides with full time. Typically, custodial parents have been awarded physical custody of the child by a court of law. Generally considered the primary care parent, he or she usually assumes responsibility of providing all essential needs for the child: shelter, clothing, food, and stability.
Typically, there are situations which lead a person to be named the primary custodial parent. In most cases, the title is awarded following a legal separation or divorce, when the decision of child custody is determined. The chosen parent is usually the one who has shown they can adequately meet all the needs of the child.
Opposite of a custodial parent is a noncustodial parent. This is the parent who the child doesn’t primarily reside with, although characteristically there are designated periods of time for the child to spend time with this parent, legally defined in a custody agreement. Time with a noncustodial parent is often limited to the weekends, holidays and summer months, as it needs to coexist with the school schedule of the child.
In most cases, the noncustodial parent has certain obligations to the custodial parent, such as paying child support to supplement the financial costs of taking care of the child. He or she may also be held responsible for paying other child expenses as well, including child care, health insurance, school uniforms, extracurricular activities and recreational activities.
Primary Care Giver Adjustments
In certain situations, adjustments may be made to who the custodial parent is. For instance, if the custodial parent becomes ill and is no longer to take care of the child, the noncustodial parent may assume role as the primary care giver. Other examples are if the primary care parent fails to provide a stable environment for the child, or if the child decides they want to reside full time with the noncustodial parent.