Gender roles in the household have been blurring more and more as the years go by. For the most part, the days in which fathers went off to work while the mother took care of the house and children are gone. Families are now realizing that the woman can be the primary breadwinner while the man stays home to take care of the children. However, to a certain extent, the law has yet to catch up with the new roles couples play in their families.

Despite what the media says, courts across the country, including those here in Louisiana, still tend to favor mothers when they think about the parent who provides the primary care for the children. For this reason, fathers tend to have an uphill battle at times when it comes to proving they are the ones who take care of the children more often.

Defining the primary caregiver

The parent/child bond plays a vital role in a child’s development, according to psychologists. This is just one reason why courts will consider which parent provides the most care for the children on a daily basis when making decisions regarding custody. The court will look at which parent took on the majority of the responsibility for the following:

  • Planning leisure activities with the children
  • Planning and preparing meals for the children
  • Attending or participating in leisure activities with the children
  • Attending parent/teacher conferences, open houses and other school activities
  • Encouraging and attending extracurricular activities for the children
  • Grooming, bathing and dressing the children
  • Helping with the children’s homework
  • Teaching math skills, reading and writing to the children
  • Making arrangements for health care the children may need
  • Doing the children’s laundry
  • Purchasing clothes and shoes for the children

You may not have realized that you handle the bulk of these responsibilities. Perhaps you and your wife agreed that she should pursue her career, or some other circumstance required you to take on the role of primary caregiver. When you go to court, you will probably need to provide substantial proof regarding your role in order for the court to determine that you are the children’s primary caregiver.

Of course, the court will also consider the best interests of the child, and if that means granting you the role of primary custodial parent, then the court should rule that way. However, since you are a father, you may find that task is not as easy as you had hoped. Before going to court, it may help to gain an understanding of your rights, your legal options and the best evidence supporting your position.