Family law courts used to believe that children were best raised by their mothers. In this respect, barring extreme circumstances like addiction, abuse or criminal behavior, the courts tended to view the primary caretaker of the children to be the mother by default, and they would give preference to the mother during child custody disputes.
These days, the situation is much different. Family law courts are just as willing to give preference to the father of the children when he can prove himself to be the primary caretaker during the marriage.
For the above reasons, many modern child custody disputes hinge on a parent's ability to prove his or her participation in childcare activities. For example, as a parent did you do the following:
- Prepare your children for bed.
- Prepare your children for school in the morning.
- Prepare your children's meals.
- Go shopping for your children.
- Help with dressing your children.
- Read your children bedtime stories.
- Enjoy various fun or educational activities with your children.
- Attend your children's school functions, parent-teacher nights and sporting events.
- Drive your children to and from school, and to other activities.
- Take your children to their medical appointments.
The more of the above activities you participated in while you lived together as a family, the more you can argue in court that you served as the caretaker of your children. If you did half of them, then you shared in the caretaking duties.
Either way, you might want to gather evidence -– perhaps through a daily childcare journal –- to show your participation in the care of your kids, as this evidence will help you navigate a child custody dispute. Review our website for information that may be helpful for parents who are dealing with custody disputes.