Use of this factor promotes continuity in the child’s life and gives custody of the child to the more experienced parent who has taken care of the child’s day-to-day needs. If both parents have actively cared for the child or if the child is older, the factor is less crucial, although it is still considered.
One state (West Virginia) has taken use of the primary caretaker factor a step further. In West Virginia, a primary caretaker is automatically entitled to custody as long as he or she is minimally fit. The presumption does not apply if the child is old enough to express an intelligent preference for a parent other than the primary caretaker. In other states, determination of which parent is the primary care taker is an important factor, but it is not the sole deciding factor.