Parent of Primary Residence

The designation of a parent as the “parent of primary residence” (PPR) or “parent of alternate residence” (PAR) is giving me angst. I have clients in a panic regarding getting this designation. I want to make sure that this is a battle worth fighting.

I have received two entirely different legal views as to the importance of this designation

In one camp… PPR is essential, getting this means that you will get child support and that the PPR can select the school for your children and change schools if the PPR moves to a different school district.

In the other camp…. PPR is the title given to the parent with the greater amount of parenting time and who receives child support. This camp says that the designation is not the determining factor to see if a parent received child support. This camp also states that the choice of schools is one of issues where joint legal custody comes into play.

Big difference.

I understood (I am not a lawyer) that income levels and the amount of overnights determines the amount of child support and who receives it. I believe that the child support calculation guidelines do favor the PPR in terms of increased dollars albeit very slightly. So let’s put child support aside for the moment as this is not the aspect of PPR that I am grappling with.

Who decides where the children go to school? One would hope that parents will co-operate with respect to the selection of schools but when there is a dispute, is the designation of PPR the deciding factor?

In thinking about this, perhaps there is an element of the first Camp’s position that is right. If you are the PPR (the parent with the greater amount of parenting time) and decide to move, you get to change the schools your children attend. Clearly in a situation where one parent has every other weekend + one night a week parenting time, their needs for a convenient school location is less important than the parent who has to get the children to school most days of the week.

So what happens in a 50/50 parenting arrangement? Who gets to decide which school district the children attend if one parent moves out of district? Is this a negotiated issue or is this an issue the courts have ruled that the PPR decides?

This is likely one of those issues that is as clear as mud and is decided (if the issue goes to court) on a case by case basis. It has been suggested that where the issue goes to court the court usually decides in favor of the PPR so perhaps that is where the pressure is coming from to get the PPR designation.

What is your experience? How was this handled in your divorce?

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