The Importance of the Primary Caretaker Designation

Determining which parent is the 'primary caretaker" of a child can be an important factor in many custody decisions that are made in Florida during divorce proceedings. When parents are unable to agree on a custody arrangement outside of court, a judge will often give preference to the parent that is found to be the primary caretaker.

Family courts weigh heavily in favor of awarding physical custody to the primary caretaker because it is generally thought to be in the best interests of the child. According to many psychologists, the emotional bond between the child and their primary caretaker is crucial for the child's development and psychological stability. When a court cannot decide which parent is the primary caretaker, a number of other factors will be used to make the custody decision.

A court will make a decision about who is the primary caretaker by determining which parent took on more of the key caretaking responsibilities. These could include bathing, meal preparation, clothing purchases and health care arrangements. Other responsibilities of a primary caretaker could be organizing the child's participation in extracurricular activities, attending parent-teacher conferences, doing the child's laundry and teaching the child skills like reading and writing.

While making a custody decision, a judge may mistakenly assume that the mother was the primary caretaker. Although this is often the case, there are also plenty of fathers who take on the majority of the care taking responsibilities. A father who was the primary caretaker of his children may find it advisable to work with an attorney who has experience in family law and fathers' rights matters while fighting for custody.

Source: FindLaw, "Preference for the Primary Caretaker," accessed on Jan. 21, 2015

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