Monday, March 26, 2007

Who Gets To Be Primary Residential Parent?

When a couple divorces, they often have disputes over who should be the primary residential parent. They agree that both parties should be equally involved in the decision making process for their children, but there are debates and disagreements over who the children should live with. If the parties cannot agree as to who should be the primary residential parent, the Court will make this decision based upon the following criteria: (1) Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the nonresidential parent ;(2) The love ,affection and other emotional ties between the parents and the child;(3) Each parent's ability to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and other material needs;(4) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;(5) The permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home;(6) The moral fitness of the parents;(7) The mental and physical health of the parents;(8) The home ,school and community record of the child;(9) The reference of the child, if the child is intelligent, understanding and experienced enough to express a preference; and (10) Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.

If you are trying to determine which parent is more likely to be awarded primary residential responsibility of the minor children look to see who usually or most often is responsible for the daily childcare responsibilities such as the following:
  • bathing;
  • feeding and preparing meals;
  • getting up and getting ready for bed;
  • helping with homework;
  • conferencing with teachers;
  • taking to/picking up from school and extracurricular activities;
  • school volunteering;
  • taking to/picking up from religious activities;
  • Arranging and hosting play dates;
  • taking a sick child to the doctor and caring for sick child;
  • hiring babysitters;
  • shopping for child;
  • playing with the child;
  • teaching values and manners;
  • maintaining and cleaning home; and
  • Choosing school and classes.

The courts will generally pick a primary residential parent based on what is in the best interests of the child, but it is important to note that the person who is the primary caregiver for a child may be the person who is awarded primary residential responsibility after a divorce is finalized.

1 comment:

C. Richard said...

In a perfect world this would be accurate. Unfortunately, this is soo not true. Read Shaw v. Shaw, 760 So. 2d 981. A custody proceedings is like a 10 sotry building. The man starts on the first floor and the women starts on the 8th floor.

In Shaw v. Shaw - the court rubber stamped parental kidnapping, made the father pay for attorney fees incurred in the appeal even though he won and was awarded visition based on the mothers whim.

Court system needs to change.