Stay-at-Home Parents versus Working Parents – Who Is the Better Choice for Primary Custodian

A father holds his young child in front of him while smiling at the candle.

During a marriage, the spouses lean on each other for love and support. The way a household is run will vary from family to family, with each family finding its own way to make day to day activities and responsibilities go smoothly. One of the most important allocation of responsibilities will be how the parenting duties are apportioned and handled between the spouses. The parents may decide that one parent will stay home with the children while the other works outside the home. If the parties divorce, custody is likely to be an important issue during the case. When one parent has worked outside the home and one has stayed home with the children, this is no less true, which may lead the spouses to inquire as to who would be a more appropriate primary custodian for the children.

Any custody determination will be made based on what is in the children’s best interest. The factors for the best interest determination are found in Minnesota statute 518.17. One of the factors listed there is the extent to which each respective parent has been involved in the regular day to day care of the children. Where one parent has been the stay at home parent, that factor will typically weigh in favor of the stay at home parent, as he or she is usually the one doing mundane tasks such as feeding, bathing, and getting the children to and from school or activities. This does not mean that the court will ignore the contributions of the parent who works outside the home, however. It also does not mean that the stay at home parent will automatically be named the primary custodian of the children because he or she has historically been the primary parent. The focus of the court’s best inquiry is to safeguard the children’s health and welfare. If the parent who has worked outside of the home is better equipped to fill that role, then he or she may be a better choice. Moreover, it is important to understand that following the divorce, the stay at home parent will likely have to get a job outside the home, too.

Call us today at (651) 371-9117 for a consultation. We can talk with you about your children and what we can do to help you reach your goals.