Child custody is an issue riddled with emotion. The courtroom can seem like a cold and unfeeling place to decide the fate of your child. To someone fighting for custody, it may appear like there’s nothing you can do to improve your chances of winning that battle. But understanding New York’s primary caretaker standard can help ensure that custody remains with you.
The best interest of the child
New York courts have one overriding interest when they are deciding custody issues – protecting the best interest of the child. To do so, they consider a number of factors relating to both the child and the parents. One of those factors, the primary caretaker standard, can greatly influence the outcome.
The primary caretaker
The primary caretaker is the parent who has spent a significant amount of time caring for the needs of the child prior to the custody hearing. Sometimes both parents put equal amounts of time and effort into the care of their child, but often it is one parent who takes on the role. This is what the court is considering when it applies the primary caretaker standard.
It is up to each parent to demonstrate to the court that they are the primary caretaker, and why. They must show the court that they have taken on the responsibility of doing the daily tasks associated with raising a child. The tasks include things like bathing and grooming the child, meal preparation, buying clothing and other necessities, assisting with homework and taking care of the child when they are sick.
These are just a few of the responsibilities that make up the primary caretaker standard. The court will consider them, and many more, when deciding which parent is in the best position to positively impact the child’s best interest. Preparing for this issue, and being ready to prove to the court that you have already undertaken these responsibilities, can greatly improve your chances of being awarded custody.