Primary-Caregiver Doctrine Law & Legal Definition


Primary caregiver doctrine is a presumptive doctrine which places a judicial preference for child custody in the parent who is child's main caregiver assuming that he or she is a fit parent. The doctrine includes the quality and the quantity of care that a parent gives a child. The courts consider several factors to determine which parent is the primary caregiver. These factors include but are not limited to: which parent (1) put the children to bed, (2) groomed the children, (3) made medical decisions, and (4) acted to teach the children basic life cooping skills.

Even though many states in the U.S. have not formally adopted this doctrine it is considered while determining the best interests of the child. For example, Ohio has not adopted the primary caretaker doctrine when awarding custody. The statutory factors of Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3109.04(F)(1) preclude any sort of presumptive quality from being given to the primary caregiver doctrine. The primary caretaker doctrine is, instead, one of those unenumerated factors that may be considered in entering a custody order pursuant to statute. [Wesselhoeft v. Wesselhoeft, 2000 Ohio App. LEXIS 3069 (Ohio Ct. App., Hocking County June 30, 2000)]

Primary caregiver doctrine is also termed primary-caretaker doctrine; primary-caregiver presumption; primary-caretaker presumption; primary-caregiver preference.