The primary caretaker is favored in custody decisions

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Friday, July 22, 2016.

Some Illinois parents who go through a divorce are able to reach an agreement about child custody outside of the courtroom. However, many others are unable to settle disputes over physical custody and must rely on the family court system. When a family court judge is making the decision, the judge typically awards custody to the parent who is deemed the child’s primary caretaker.

In family law cases, a child’s primary caretaker is the parent who took care of the child’s essential needs. The parent who bathed, groomed and dressed the child and prepared the child’s meals would be considered the primary caretaker. A family court judge will also consider which parent made health care arrangements for the child, set up extracurricular activities for the child and taught the child reading and writing skills.

Psychological research has shown that maintaining a strong relationship with the child’s primary caretaker is vital for the child’s development. Because psychologists have stressed the importance of this bond, family courts give preference to a child’s primary caretaker in custody rulings. However, there are many situations where two parents share primary caretaker responsibilities equally, and naming one person the primary caretaker is not possible.

When two divorcing parents shared essential caretaking responsibilities for their children, a judge may award both parents joint physical custody. If one parent is seeking sole physical custody, the other parent may need a lawyer to help to petition for joint physical custody. A lawyer may be able to help the parent to prove that both parents acted as primary caretakers and that joint custody is in the best interests of the child.

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