As discussed in my blog two weeks ago, at the time of filing for divorce or a suit affecting the parent-child relationship or anytime during the pendency of a lawsuit involving children, a party can request a Temporary Orders Hearing. The purpose of the Temporary Orders Hearing is for the Court to make custody orders regarding conservatorship, rights and duties to the child, possession and access for each parent with the child, and child support that will remain in place during the pendency of the lawsuit.
What makes a person the “primary parent” as opposed to the other parent is that the primary parent is awarded to be the “person with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child.” There are a number of factors the Court considers when deciding who should be given the temporary exclusive right to establish the primary residence of the child at a Temporary Orders hearing.
Assuming both parents are fit and there has not been any child abuse, harm or neglect, the Court first and foremost is going to examine which parent has been the primary caretaker of the child. If both parents shared in this responsibility, it is ok to acknowledge this fact. However, if you believe you were the primary parent presently and leading up to the lawsuit, the following are actions (if applicable) you need to show the Court you performed for your child a majority of the time:
- You fed your child;
- You bathed your child;
- You got your child ready for school;
- You took your child to school or daycare;
- You picked up your child from school or daycare;
- You scheduled, attended and took the child to and from doctors’ appointments;
- You attended school activities and parent-teacher conferences;
- You participated in the child’s extracurricular activities; and
- You helped with the child’s homework.
Please understand that this list is not all encompassing and there are multitudes of ways that you can prove that you are the child’s primary parent. Documents such as homework logs, attendance records, report cards, reading logs, and daycare logs are very helpful in aiding the Court when it comes to deciding which parent shall have the temporary exclusive right to establish the child’s primary residence at a Temporary Orders hearing.