What does being named the “Primary Residential Parent” really mean?
In every divorce and custody case, the Court is required to enter a Permanent Parenting Plan, which spells out the schedule for the time the children will be with each parent, how parenting decisions will be made, and how the children will be supported financially.
In that Plan, one or the other parent is going to get named the “Primary Residential Parent.” Many clients are confused about what that means.
First, what it doesn’t mean: Being named Primary Residential Parent does NOT mean that the child does not also live with the other parent. It has nothing to do with the child’s schedule, or with who gets to make decisions that impact the child’s life. It has nothing to do with who gets child support, or who is the more important parent in the child’s life.
It does mean the following:
- The Primary Residential Parent is that parent whose home is designated as the child’s “primary residence” for school zoning purposes.
- The Primary Residential Parent is the “default setting” for some benefits that flow to the child directly, such as social security benefits, if the Parenting Plan is otherwise silent.
Of all of the tough parenting issues that we help our families resolve, this is at the bottom of the list. In other words, if there’s a concession to make so that you can get the other parent to agree to something really important to you, this may well be the thing to give.
Obviously, specific circumstances that are unique to your family may well apply. For that kind of individual analysis, we encourage you to make an appointment with Held Law Firm. That way, we are not just talking about a label, like Primary Residential Parent. Instead, we are looking at all of your children’s needs, and all of your family’s needs, to design a Parenting Plan that fits.
We look forward to helping you!