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Mowery Youell & Galeano, LTD. Attorneys at Law
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Determining the primary caretaker role

Child custody matters during an Ohio divorce can become complicated if the estranged spouses cannot agree on a parenting plan and the case goes to court. When both parents are petitioning for physical custody, there are a variety of factors that are considered by family law courts.

In determining which parent should receive physical custody of the child, courts usually attempt to establish who the primary caretaker of the child is and what the best interests of the child are. The role of primary caretaker in a child custody dispute involves several aspects and they can vary from state to state. To determine who the primary caretaker is, courts tend to look at how parenting time was actually divided, which includes the general care of the child through such things as meal preparations and feeding, health decisions and bathing and grooming and even doing the child's laundry and buying clothes. As well, courts look at which parent was most involved in fostering a child's education, extra-curricular activities, sports and leisure activities.

Courts of course focus on the best interests of the child when deciding physical custody, particularly when it is difficult to establish who the primary caretaker was. In that case, a child's preference might be considered. Courts also look at how a child might adjust to changes in residence, neighborhood and school and the type of relationships the child has with each parent's extended family. They also examine the way parents use discipline and any evidence of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

While the ideal is for parents to agree to a shared parenting plan, if this is not possible, a divorcing parent might seek the guidance of family law attorney. In some cases, legal counsel could suggest mediation as a way to resolve these issues.

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