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Primary Caretaker Related Questions

Couples who are thinking about divorce should consider what is best for their children. When the court judges a divorce case and decides who will legally be considered the primary caretaker, it seeks the best interests for the minors in the family. Being a primary caretaker is not limited to caring for children. It can also include caring for elderly, who may not be able to support themselves financially or physically. Issues may arise for the person given the role of primary caretaker. When faced with questions or doubts in this area, many turn to the Lawyers on JustAnswer for insights.

Below are some of top primary caretaker questions they’ve answered.

What is the definition of “primary caretaker”?

The term “primary caretaker” became a legal term when psychologists began to stress the bond between a child and his or her primary caretaker. Family courts in most states allow a preference for the parent who can demonstrate he or she was the main caretaker during the course of marriage or the parent who assumed that role if the parents were unmarried. The relationship between the primary caretaker and child is considered vital to the child’s psychological wellbeing and successful passage through developmental stages.

A child moves in with the parent other than the primary caretaker. How can child support for the other child(ren) living with the primary caretaker be modified in this case?

Before the primary caretaker asks for a modification of the child support orders for that child, the court needs to be notified custody has changed to the other parent. Without this, Child Support Enforcement (CSE) will not make recalculations. After a court order is received, CSE will recalculate child support for the other child(ren). Technically, the other parent is legally obligated to pay the current child support orders for two children until custody is changed, after which support can be modified.

One of the parents is incapacitated due to health reasons but recovers sufficiently, gets a job in another state, and seeks to take custody of the child from the other parent who is the primary caretaker. What can be done to prevent the former from doing so?

If the primary caretaker allows the child to be taken to another state for six or more months, that state will have jurisdiction over the custody of the child. This means the primary caretaker would have to travel to that state for any legal situation arising from the custody of the child. Moreover, if the parent has not sufficiently recovered from the illness, it would risk the child being taken into custody by Child Protective Services (CPS).

Another factor which could favor the parent who has moved with the child: The court could deem the “Ill” parent fit if the child has been taken care of for a reasonable period of time. This would make taking back custody by the primary caretaker that much more difficult. However, what could work in favor of the primary caretaker is if the parents have a temporary custody agreement in which the child can be with either parent for about a month at a time.

Who becomes the primary caretaker of a child in a home where the parents are not married? Can the mother claim primary physical custody if she wants to leave the father?

The parent who is responsible for the majority of the care for the child is the primary caretaker, which is normally determined by the court after hearing evidence. Typically, the mother would not be the primary caretaker until that has been determined by a court. The father would have equal rights to custody of the child if his name is on the child’s birth certificate until the court orders otherwise. In this situation, it is best for the father to seek an order from the court preventing the mother from taking the child until custody has been determined.

A parent works from home and is the primary caretaker of the kids. The other parent is abusive and quarrelsome, even in front of the kids, causing them to become insecure. Can the primary caretaker win custody of the kids?

In such a situation, the other parent’s behavior does not have the children’s best interests at heart, so this could work to the advantage of the primary caretaker in seeking custody in court.

A mother in South Carolina has joint custody with the father. She is the primary caretaker. She wants to move to another state to a new job with the children since it will improve their standard of living considerably. What are her chances of winning custody of the children in court?

Since the court looks for the best interests of the children, they will typically grant a relocation motion so long as there is an overwhelming financial reason. This may include a better job for the parent; benefit for the child academically (better schools); and improvement in the parent's life due to less travel. It can help the parent seeking custody if arrangements are made to continue the relationship with the non-custodial parent.

In South Carolina, the courts can take relocation into account for the initial determination of custody and can use it as a determining factor if the parents are equally fit custodians. However, the court must also consider the child's wishes if the child is of sufficient age and maturity - typically around age 12.

If you are facing any type of primary caretaker issue – big or small – and need professional insights on the best course of action, the Lawyers on JustAnswer can answer you quickly, effectively, and affordably.
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