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Can a father be the primary caretaker of the kids?

When custody is contested, all other things being equal, judges tend to prefer to place the children in the home of the parent considered to be the "primary caretaker."

The court considers the strong bond between the child and the primary caretaker to be integral to the psychological stability of the child. To make this determination, the court will closely examine which parent was primarily responsible for the following:

-- Bathing, dressing and grooming tasks

-- Planning and preparing meals

-- Laundry and clothing care

-- Taking children to doctor's and dental appointments

-- Assisting with homework

-- Attending parent/teacher conferences and open house at the school

-- Facilitating kids' participation in sports and other extracurricular activities

-- Taking part in recreational activities with their child

Some courts go even further and consider such things as does the parent expose the child to second-hand smoke or volunteer in the classroom.

Fathers often feel at a disadvantage because in addition to primary caretaking duties, they also may be expected to be the breadwinners as well. While it is not impossible to pull off both roles, many fathers find that the challenge is more than they are capable of meeting.

The bottom line for the courts when determining custody is that custody should reflect the best interests of the child. This means the judge will consider some or all of the following:

-- Mental and physical health of the parents

-- Continuity of care in a stable environment

-- Religious preference of the parents and child

-- In older children, their preference

-- Relationships and positive interactions with other household members

-- Child's sex and age

-- Support system with extended family members of the parents

-- Child's adjustment to their community and school

-- Incidents of excessive discipline or drug or alcohol abuse by the parents

Fathers seeking custody can turn to a family law attorney to help them build a strong case to remain their child's primary caretaker and be awarded custody.

Source: Findlaw, "Preference for the "Primary Caretaker"," accessed Aug. 26, 2015

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