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Who's the primary caretaker of your child?

The question of who is the primary caretaker of your child is essential to family law court decisions pertaining to child custody. If the parents cannot agree on who will receive physical custody of the children -- or how they will split physical custody between one another -- the court will want to determine which parent served as the primary caretaker so it can give preference to that parent's wishes in its decision-making.

There are a few questions the court will want answered when making a determination of who served as primary caretaker. Although primary caretaker status often falls upon the mother because women in our society tend to fulfill this role, it is not always the case. Here's what family law courts will want to know:

  • Which parent prepared the children for school every morning by making their breakfasts and lunches, getting them dressed and ensuring that their hygiene needs were met?
  • Which parent drove the children to school, picked them up from day care, took them to the doctor and fulfilled other transportation requirements?
  • Which parent cooked balanced dinners for the children at night?
  • Which parent prepared the children for bed, bathed them and read them bedtime stories?
  • Which parent took the children out for weekend outings like taking them to sporting events, playing with them in the park, taking them to museums and doing other fun activities with them?

By answering these and other questions like this, the court will determine who served as primary caretaker of your children. Regardless which parent you are -- if you want to have the strongest position during a child custody dispute -- you may want to play as active of a role as possible when caring for your kids. In addition, consider keeping a daily diary of the various activities you performed with and for your children.

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