In our modern world, it is very rare that one parent works when the other does not. However, sometimes this issue occurs in a custody case. During the relationship or marriage, one parent stayed home to take care of the children or only worked part-time while other parent worked full time to provide for the family. Sometimes, the stay at home parent will assume that they are entitled to primary custody of the child or children because they are available more often to take care of the children. Although one of the considerations in a custody action is who is more likely to provide for the child's daily needs, and the court favors having parents provide care for children instead of third parties, the fact that one parent works, absent additional concerns will not bar them from sharing custody or even exercising primary custody of the child or children.
In a perfect world, the parents would be able to work together to arrange their custody schedules around work schedules and other events, but even the best co-parents cannot always plan for the unexpected. Although the fact that one parent stays home may impact the custody arrangement for a very young child, once children begin to attend school, the court is not likely to consider a work schedule a bar to a parent exercising custody unless it is so erratic or so lengthy that the child gets to spend little to no quality time with the parent during their custody time.
When parents work very well together, the court will often establish a right of first refusal. This means that the other parent has the first option to assume custody and act as a child care provider if the other parent is unable to exercise custody. However, this rule usually only applies in cases such as out of town trips or unplanned events. Most often, parents are told by the courts that they are allowed to select their own child care providers during their custody time whether it is Grandma or the girl who lives three doors down. The other parent can only veto the care giver in cases where they are concerned about the child's safety and well-being.
If you have more questions about how your work schedule might impact your custody arrangement, contact our office today!