Are kids in “custody” spending more time with mom, dad, or is it equal? And who is doing the deciding – the parents or the courts?

Children in sole custody situations are usually with the mother. This is not that surprising but still, the fact that only 1 in 6 custodial parents are fathers seems low. With moms becoming high wage earners and dads more involved in parenting, it seems joint custody is the natural result for families, but think again.

The Washington State Center for Court Research has examined the residential patterns of children in custody arrangements and the findings are fascinating.

Data from 2013 reveals that in 65.6% of families, children are scheduled to spend more hours with mom than dad. Only in 18.9% of these situations are children spending 50-50 time with parents.

The report also examined the connection between risk factors such as domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, mental health issues, and chemical dependence, and the amount of residential time. Of the 2,911 cases that were reviewed, 86% had no risk factors for either parent; which is encouraging news. Only 3.8% of the mothers and 11% of the fathers were identified as having at least one risk factor. Chemical dependency was the most common for both – 2% for mothers and 5% for fathers.

As one might imagine, when the amount of risk factors increase, the parent without any perils is more likely to have full custody. When a mother had 3 risk factors 69.2% of the fathers were likely to have full custody, whereas when a father had 3 risk factors 73.3% of the mothers got full custody. Overall, fathers were more likely to lose residential time with their children due to risk factors than mothers.

Parenting plans often determine residential time but who determines parenting plans? The Washington State Center for Court Research found that 87.0% of parenting plans were by agreement of both parties, 3.0% were decided after a contested hearing or trial, and 10.0% by default.

So, what all these numbers tell us is that the family unit hasn’t evolved as much as some of us may have believed. Putting all the figures together, the big picture demonstrates that, in most cases, both parents agree that a child (or children) should spend most of their time with mom. And for all the strides we’ve made in gender equality the statistics remind us that, simply put, dad needs to spend more time with the kid.

Whether it’s custody or another family law issue like alimony, divorce or adoption, Pacific Northwest Family Law has a highly qualified attorney here to help you. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 509-572-3700.