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Colorado Family Law

How do courts determine which parent is the primary caretaker?

The parent who served as primary caretaker of a particular child is the parent whom courts will favor when resolving a child custody disagreement. Determining which parent was the primary caretaker, however, could be subject to different opinions.

One parent might argue that he or she made lunches and dinners for the children, while the other parent argues that he or she drove the children to school, bathed them and tucked them in at night after reading them bedtime stories. In some cases, the parents may have split the child-rearing duties 50-50, while in other cases one parent clearly took care of all the child-raising duties.

How did you and your ex share childcare responsibilities?

A common misnomer is that women always have the upper hand in a Colorado child custody dispute. What's actually happening is that the primary caretaker has the upper hand. Due to societal gender roles, women serve as the primary caretakers of children in a large percentage of cases, so women often win this advantage.

One thing that parents can do to prove they serve as primary caretaker of their children is to show that they engaged in the following activities on behalf of their kids:

  • Grooming, dressing and bathing their children
  • Preparing meals and shopping for food for their children
  • Tending to the children's health care needs and taking them to medical and dental appointments
  • Buying clothing and doing the laundry for the children
  • Teaching the children and helping them with schoolwork.
  • Assisting and supporting the children with their sports, art, music and other activities
  • Enjoying leisure activities with the children
  • Attending parent-teacher conferences and school open house events

Consider keeping a parenting journal

A parenting journal is a great way for involved parents to record how they help with childcare responsibilities. A simple journal in which parents record the daily work they do for their children and the activities they enjoyed with their children can serve as excellent evidence in court to help prove they shared in caregiving responsibilities.

If you have any questions about whether you qualify as the primary caretaker of your children, you may want to investigate this legal topic further, so you can put your best foot forward in your Colorado child custody dispute.

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McGuane & Hogan, P.C.
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive Suite 950
Denver, CO 80209

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Phone: 303-691-9600
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