How a Parent Can Be Designated As a Primary Caregiver
One of the primary components of child support is determining who is the primary caregiver for the child, which plays a part in who receives the child support payments. In 2014, around 82 percent of primary caregivers were mothers, with only 18 percent being fathers. When you are going through a divorce or separation and need to know more about child support, one of our child support lawyers can help answer your questions.
The Importance of a Primary Caregiver in Child Support Cases
In almost all cases, the primary caregiver of the child will receive child support payments from the other parent. While determining the identity of the primary caregiver plays a large role in child custody cases, it’s also important with child support. The parent who gains custody of the child will be considered to be the child’s primary caregiver, which means that the other parent is going to need to make child support payments.
The parent who becomes the child’s primary caregiver is usually the one who can display to the courts that he or she was the main caregiver for the child during the marriage. Along with being able to support the child financially, the primary caregiver will also need to have an emotional bond with the child. In the event that both parents share custody equally with no one being labeled as a primary caregiver, child support payments may still need to be paid and are determined by which individual brings in the most income.
How the Role of Primary Caregiver Is Determined
When the courts are attempting to identify which of the parents should be the primary caregiver for the child, their primary focus is on how the individuals have divided the main responsibilities that they have as parents. These responsibilities include tasks like:
- The planning and preparation of meals
- General health care plans
- Grooming, dressing, and bathing
- Attending parent-teacher conferences as well as open houses at school
- Partaking in fun activities with the child
- Helping the child with his or her homework while also teaching him or her skills like reading and writing
- Taking care of laundry and purchasing any necessary clothes
The parent who performs the majority of these tasks will likely be named as the primary caregiver of the child in question. While other factors may come into play, the person who spends the most time with the child and is able to support him or her financially has the largest chance of being designated as the primary caregiver.
Making Decisions Based on the Child’s Best Interests
If the courts are provided with comprehensive information that details how the parental responsibilities are divided between both people but can’t come to a decision about which one should be the primary caregiver, it’s possible that this decision will be made by the courts based on the child’s best interests, which can determine who will be making child support payments. If the parental responsibilities are divided evenly among each person, there are many factors that will be considered when looking at what is in the child’s best interest. These factors include:
- The child’s age
- The child’s opinion (if appropriate)
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- Any evidence of drug abuse, emotional abuse, or excessive amounts of discipline by the parent
- How the parent interacts with other members within the household
- Which parent would allow for the continuation of a steady home environment
When one parent has been named as the primary caregiver of the child, the other person will need to start making child support payments on a monthly basis. Consider contacting our child support lawyer if you’re wondering about how these payments are calculated.
If you still have questions about whether you will be able to become your child’s primary caregiver, contact one of our Jenkintown child support lawyers at (215) 886-1266 to have a more detailed conversation about your case.