primary-caregiver doctrine. Family law. The presumption that, in a custody dispute, the parent who is a child’s main caregiver will be the child’s custodian, assuming that he or she is a fit parent. • This doctrine includes the quality and the quantity of care that a parent gives a child — but excludes supervisory care by others while the child is in the parent’s custody. Under this doctrine, courts sometimes divide children into three age groups: those under the age of 6, those 6 to 14, and those 14 and older. For children under the age of 6, an absolute presumption exists in favor of the primary caretaker as custodian. For those 6 to 14, the trial court may hear the child’s preference on the record but without the parents being present. For those 14 and older, the child may be allowed to choose which parent will be the custodian, assuming that both parents are fit. — Also termed primary-caretaker doctrine; primary-caregiver presumption; primary-caretaker presumption; primary-caregiver preference. Cf. MATERNAL-PREFERENCE PRESUMPTION; TENDER-YEARS DOCTRINE.

[Blacks Law 8th]