Parenting time is perhaps the most important matter to resolve when parents split up. In most cases, parents will each have time with their kids, but you may wonder what this will look like. Will you split time 50/50?
What the statistics say
According to a report from the Washington State Center for Court Research, the most commonly reported balance of parenting time was 50/50 between mother and father, with nearly 21 percent of cases.
However, in nearly two-thirds of all the cases, children spent more residential time with their mothers.
In other words, while it is common for children to spend the same amount of time with each parent, most cases historically end up with the mother receiving more parenting time.
It is worth noting that this most recent Residential Time Summary Report is from 2016, and the results may not be complete or perfectly accurate. However, looking beyond state-specific numbers, 50/50 schedules remain among the most common types of shared custody.
Factors that will affect parenting time
Several factors can sway the balance of time between parents.
- Risk factors: These are factors that adversely affect a parent’s capabilities or a child’s well-being. Some examples include chemical dependency, domestic abuse or violence and certain mental health conditions. A parent with one or more risk factors often has less parenting time.
- Method of establishing custody: When parents work out parenting time cooperatively outside of court, they can have more control over the schedule. Litigating the issue can leave the matter in the hands of a judge who has never met you and may reach different conclusions than you would. Thus, if 50/50 is what you want, then agreeing to this without going to court can be wise.
- Logistics: Is it actually possible to divide parenting time in half? For instance, it may be unrealistic if one of you travels a lot or lives too far away. And if one of you performs the bulk of parenting tasks, spending more time with you can provide the most stability for your child.
Many of these factors are under your control, to an extent. Thus, if dividing parenting time in half is what you want, you can take the steps necessary to make it a reality.
While 50/50 custody is not the default arrangement in Washington, it is a common schedule you might choose to pursue.