What's a parent?
Every baby has two biological parents who may or may not be the baby's caregivers. The biological parents are the people who bring the baby into being.
Caregivers are the people who provide for the child's needs. When you're a little kid, you need somebody to fix your food, help you get dressed, explain things, and take care of you when you're sick or hurt. It could be more than one person. It could be different people at different times.
When you're a little kid and you need something, there has to be somebody you can count on to be there for you. This is your "go-to" caregiver, your safety net. This is the person who is taking responsibility for your care.
Either one of the two people who conceive the baby.
The person responsible for making sure the child has essential care.
The parent the child lives with.
A parent who does not live with his or her child.
Sometimes the two biological parents are a child's main caregivers, but it isn't always that way. Sometimes, for one reason or another, only one biological parent takes care of the child. Sometimes neither biological parent takes care of the child.
A child's legal parent is the person responsible for providing that child with the care that he or she needs. If something happens to the child, if the child does not receive basic care and protection, the legal parent can be held responsible. This is how our society tries to make sure that every child is cared for.
The law provides consequences for a legal parent who does not provide adequate care and protection for his or her child, and for a noncustodial parent who fails to provide financial support for his or her child.
Both of a child's parents are responsible for supporting the child financially. When a child lives with just one parent, that parent is called the custodial parent (the parent with custody). A parent who does not live with his or her child is called the noncustodial parent. The noncustodial parent is required to make child support payments, unless the child has been legally adopted by someone else.