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Child custody — determining the primary caregiver

Navigating divorce is hard enough as it is, but throw kids into the mix and things can get even more intense. Many parents in Louisiana prioritize child custody, working hard to make sure that their children’s best interests are fully upheld in the agreement. Part of determining those best interests is figuring out who a child’s primary caretaker is. While it might be obvious in certain cases, some families may struggle to agree.

A primary caregiver is the parent largely responsible for a child’s daily care. There are several areas of day to day care where one might look when trying to make this decision. For example, who bathes, dresses or grooms the child? Or, which parent is largely responsible for planning and providing his or her meals? It is also helpful to consider who:

  • Purchases and washes the child’s closes
  • Handles health care arrangements
  • Fosters extracurricular activities
  • Helps with homework
  • Communicates with teachers and attends school meetings
  • Plans and participates in leisure activities

Child psychologists generally agree that maintaining a strong relationship with a primary caregiver is vital to a child’s mental health. Making decisions that severely limit or basically eliminate that relationship can be psychologically damaging to a child. This is on top of the emotional impact of his or her parents’ divorce.

Deciding which parent is the primary caretaker does not mean that he or she will automatically get sole custody. This designation is also important when considering joint custody arrangements when it might be helpful for the primary caretaker to have custody on specific days when particular activities take place. There are other factors that go into creating a child custody agreement though, so Louisiana parents should be certain they understand the extent of this process before making any final decisions.

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