If there's a battle over who should receive physical child custody, family law courts will usually favor the parent deemed to be the "primary caretaker." The primary caretaker is the parent who predominantly cared for the children, bathed them, fed them, took them to school, put them to bed, took them to the doctor and performed other activities on their behalf.
Courts will typically award full physical custody to the primary caretaker, meaning that the children will live with this parent full time. As for the parent who does not receive physical custody, he or she will usually have limited visitation rights. For this reason, it's important to understand how much a child custody battle usually hinges on which parent is the primary caretaker.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you're trying to prove you deserve primary caretaker status:
Keep a parenting journal:
Use a parenting journal to write down the activities you engaged in on behalf of your children every day, and take notes on how you passed the time with your kids. These notes will help prove you were the parent who contributed most as a caretaker for your children.
Play an active role in the daily lives of your children:
The more you engage with your children on a daily basis, the more likely a court will see you as a caretaker.
Don't assume that gender will dictate the decision:
In the past, mothers had a higher chance of receiving full physical child custody of their children due to gender bias and the assumption children belong with their mothers. This is no longer true, and courts will base their decisions more objectively. Instead of gender, courts focus on which parent devoted more time to the children's needs.
Are you in the throes of a child custody battle? Our firm is available to review your case to determine the best way to protect your custody rights.