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Caretakers and primary custody matters

While many divorces are settled outside of the California court system for the sake of minimizing costs and conflict, more contentious matters can result in long and costly litigation. Some of the most difficult cases involve custody battles, which can result in serious emotional and financial outcomes. As a parent considers challenging the other party's demands during custody proceedings, it could be helpful to consider issues such as a court's preference for a primary caretaker as the primary custodian of a child.

A primary caretaker is typically the parent who is most involved in caring for and interacting with their child. Responsibilities of this party tend to be varied and numerous, including at-home activities, school-related needs, and transportation. Because a child's emotional bond with this parent is significant, it is typically considered best for custody decisions to facilitate the preservation of that relationship.

While being the primary caretaker of a child provides strong motivation for a judge to assign primary physical custody, there are certain situations in which a strong case against such a decision could be made. For example, a parent in poor physical or mental health might be considered ill-equipped to handle the child's needs. A parent demonstrating evidence of substance abuse might also risk not being given primary custody in spite of being the primary caretaker. In some cases, a child's preference might be considered.

A parent who is not the primary caretaker might require extensive legal assistance in a custody battle in whichprimary physical custody is sought. A lawyer might help a parent with gathering appropriate documentation of facts supporting such a request. For example, suspicions of substance abuse might be addressed by requesting drug testing. Medical concerns might be supported with health records. Negligence related to certain parenting responsibilities might be documented through a child's school attendance records.

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