What is a primary caregiver?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Child custody

When it comes to divorce cases and parental rights, the courts will sometimes identify a primary caregiver. This is the parent who spent the majority of their time caring for the child and helping to raise them on a daily basis. The parent may have been involved in things like:

  • Planning activities 
  • Teaching basic skills like reading or writing 
  • Taking the child to sporting events and extracurricular activities 
  • Buying clothes 
  • Preparing meals 
  • Helping with bathing and grooming needs 
  • Going to conferences with the child’s teachers 
  • Taking the child to doctor’s appointments

Essentially, the child may just feel more comfortable around this parent if they were more heavily involved than the other parent. Creating stability and security is important during a divorce, so the courts may consider how involved each parent was in the child’s life previously.

Does this still matter?

It is true that courts are moving away from ruling on the grounds of a primary caregiver. It used to be that women were generally considered the primary caregivers and would be preferential when looking at child custody rights. But this can hinder the relationship between the child and their father, so modern courts are giving this less consideration and trying to split things up more evenly between both parents.

That said, the role of the primary caregiver could still apply in more extreme cases. Perhaps one parent stays at home and takes care of the children while the other travels for weeks or even months at a time for work. It may be best to leave the children primarily with this caregiver because that’s what they’re used to and it will keep their life as stable as possible.

There are a lot of considerations when going through a divorce. Be sure you know what legal options you have while dividing child custody rights.