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The primary caregiver role and child custody decisions

Texans who are having problems working out residential custody arrangements with their children's other parents may find it necessary to file petitions in family court. People who do so might wonder how judges make decisions about who will be given primary residential custody of their children.

Judgeshave a tendency to favor parents who have been their children's primary caregivers. This is because psychologists believe that having a close bond with primary caregivers is important for healthy child development. In order to determine which parent has served as a child's primary caregiver, the court may look at evidence about which parent clothed, fed, bathed and dressed the child. The judge may also consider which parent met with teachers, attended extracurricular activities and involved his or her child in leisure activities.

A judge who has a difficult time determining which parent has been the child's primary caregiver will next consider what is in the child's best interests. These factors include such things as drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, physical or mental health problems, the relationship of the child with each parent and with other household members, and the connection the child has with his or her school and community.

In some cases, trying to work out a co-parenting agreement may be in a parent's best interests as well as in his or her child's. A family law attorney may be able to negotiate a parenting plan that works for everyone who is involved. This may allow the client to move forward, working with his or her child's other parent in order to help raise the child in the healthiest way possible.

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