According to the United States Census Bureau, there are 12.9 million custodial or primary parents in America.
In family law, the term “primary parent” defines which parent a child lives with for more than 50% of the time. The primary parent has an incredible amount of custodial responsibility for the child. This may have an advantage in custody fights.
The custody laws in most states follow a clear-cut primary parent definition to help determine which parent receives custody of the child. This helps if there isn’t an agreement between the parents.
But how do you decide who becomes the primary parent? It all depends on your state and how much time each parent has with their child.
If you’re a parent going through a custody battle, it’s essential to understand the meaning of primary parent and how it might affect your case. Below, we break down the definition of a primary parent and what it may mean for you.
Is There an Official Primary Parent Definition?
The primary parent meaning references a parent who has custody of the child more than half the time. In most cases, the primary parent is also the child’s biological mother. However, in cases where parents share joint legal custody, the court will look at several factors to determine which parent should be designated as the primary parent.
These factors can include the child’s age or preference if they are old enough to express one. In addition, it can consist of which parent has provided the child with more physical and emotional care. Another factor determining the primary parent is each parent’s work schedule.
For example, if you have a job where you work overnight and you aren’t able to retain care for the child, that could reduce your chances of being listed as the primary parent.
The court will consider the distance between each parent’s home and the child’s school or daycare. Also, the parent who can provide a stable home life for the child will be examined.
In some cases, the court may decide that it is in the child’s best interest to have joint physical custody. This means that the child would live with each parent for an equal amount of time. Yet, this arrangement is rare.
How Does Being Named Primary Parent Affect Custody Cases?
Being named primary parent can be a massive advantage in many custody battles. Courts often defy parents’ wishes about matters involving their children. Therefore, if you are named primary, you will likely have a significant say in decisions.
These decisions can range from your child’s education to medical care. They can also include extracurricular activities and religious upbringing.
Being the primary parent gives you more control over your child’s daily routine. This can be extremely important. Working parents must coordinate their work schedules around their children’s school and extracurricular activities.
Know Your Rights as a Primary Parent
The role of a primary parent comes with many responsibilities. You are responsible for meeting your child’s basic needs like food, shelter, and emotional well-being.
If you are going through a divorce or want to know who gets custody, an experienced family law attorney can help you navigate this complex process.
You aren’t in this alone! Contact our dedicated team at Dalena & Bosch, who can help you understand your specific rights and options under the law.