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Determining parental roles in regard to child support

In New Jersey, there are four roles that separated or divorcing parents may assume when the matter of child custody is determined. These are the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent, the parent of primary residence and the parent of alternate residence. Each of these roles affects whether or not a parent is obligated to pay child support to the other parent.

When a judge decides that sole physical custody is in the best interests of the child, the parents take on two different roles. One of these roles is that of the custodial parent, which gives that parent physical custody of the child. This parent also provides for the needs of the child on a daily basis. The second role is that of the noncustodial parent. Although this parent does not have physical custody, the individual may get time privileges with the child. In most cases, the noncustodial parent becomes obligated to pay child support to the custodial parent.

When shared parenting is determined as the best arrangement, the parents take on the roles of the parent of primary residence and the parent of alternate residence. The PPR becomes the parent with whom the child lives with for more than half of the year or with whom the child lives with while attending school. The PAR becomes the parent with whom the child stays when the child is not with the PPR. If the PPR does not make sufficient earnings to provide for the daily needs of the child, the PAR may pay child support. Otherwise, the PAR may not be required to pay child support.

An example of the PAR not having to pay child support is if the child lives with the PPR while attending school and with the PAR the rest of the time. This may mean that the parents share the same amount of time with and responsibility for the daily needs of the child. If the PPR also makes sufficient income, the PAR might not be obligated to pay child support.

Source:, "Use of Child Support Guidelines ", October 06, 2014

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