Even after separation, parents are still responsible for their children’s growth and development, and they’ll do this by sharing the cost of raising the child and being present in their lives. But with the complications that come with divorce or separation, child custody and visitation can be a big conflict.

To calculate the correct time-share, you must know the average hours the child spends with either parent annually. But this can often lead to confusion.

How to Measure Custodial Time

There’s no standard method of measuring the time a child spends with either parent. This is due to several possibilities that can disconnect the actual time-share from the actual expenditure. These random events can alter the approximations, but understanding the custodial schedules can precisely serve the purpose.

Calculating Per Hour

In some U.S states, child custody percentage is calculated by the hour. Consider a scheduled visitation on Wednesday nights and every other weekend between 5 pm and 9 pm. So if the weekend begins on Friday at 5.00 pm and concludes on Sunday 7.00 pm, the parenting time will constitute 50 hours every weekend.

Since this happens every other weekend, you can multiply this by 26 weeks, leading to 1300 hours in total. To this, add the four hours every Wednesday night, then multiply by 52 since it’s a weekly visit. This means an additional 208 hours, placing the total at 1508 hours.

To get the percentage custody, you’ll divide this amount by 8,760 hours that constitute a year. In this case, every other weekend custody percentage will be 17%.

Overnights Custody Percentage

Consider the above example. In this case, Wednesday night will not be considered when computing the custody percentage since it does not comprise an overnight. Rather, it’s only the weekends (Friday and Saturday nights) that will count. Thus, consider the 52 annual overnights then divide this by the number of days (a leap year can change the percentage). For 365 days, the result will be 14% custody.

Factors That Determine Custodial Time and Visitation

Various factors come to play when determining how much visitation each parent should have and how they share custody. As you would expect, these factors vary from state to state. But the primary consideration is usually the child’s best interests.

Here are the key factors that determine custodial time:

Emotional Ties Between Parents and The Child

Before determining custodial time, the court must first ascertain the parent with the most profound emotional ties with the kid. This is visible through several external factors, such as knowing your child’s interests and likes or your tendency to address their needs.

You must answer questions like:

  • What’s your child’s favorite menu?
  • Which is their favorite book, story, or TV program?
  • How has the divorce affected your child, and what do you intend to do to remedy the harm?
  • Does your bond with your kid equal to your ex’s?

These are just examples of the questions. The bottom line: the parent with stronger emotional ties and the ability to address their child’s interests has an edge.

Ability to Provide

Another crucial consideration factor that courts use to determine custody is either parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs. They must decide who’s been prioritizing the child’s essentials. Most of the time, one parent may beat the other in terms of financial capabilities but have less inclination. These questions can help determine this:

  • Who purchases the child’s toys, clothes, or other necessary items?
  • Who’s responsible for scheduling and paying for doctor appointments?
  • Who pays for child care or nanny services?
  • What’s each party’s earning capacity?
  • What arrangements do you and your partner have concerning the child’s education if you’re both employed?

The answers will determine the parent who’s more inclined to their child’s needs.

Life Stability

The child’s social and emotional development is greatly determined by the stable living situation of their parent. That’s why courts consider life stability to be a crucial determining factor when designating custodial time. Here are some questions to ascertain the parent with the ability to provide a more stable life to the child:

  • How is your child’s current residence? Is it right for them?
  • Which place do you wish your child to stay most of the time?
  • Which of the parents spends more nights with the child?
  • Where do your child’s relatives and friends live?
  • What has been your child’s response to moving?
  • Between your home and that of your ex’s, which one do you think will offer your child the most affection, love, guidance, education, spiritual and moral training?

The child must be housed in a stable environment, and there’s no better way to ascertain the best surrounding to raise them than answering these questions.

The Family Unit

The stability, love, and support of the family unit is another factor that’s crucial in child development. Courts must ascertain how the child relates with others in the family, the stability of these relationships, and how much other family members influence them. Here are some questions:

  • How does the child relate to their siblings?
  • How do they relate to your former partner?
  • Which party has prospects of continuing a relationship or remarrying an individual who’ll be critical in the child’s life?
  • Does either party use foul language in front of the child?
  • Have there been allegations of sexual abuse by either party or anyone the child associates with?
  • Is there any party with a driving record?

The family unit’s stability surrounding the kind is crucial, and these questions can determine the amount of custodial time either party gets based on the family unit factors.

Parents’ Health

A parent with compromised mental or physical health may experience difficulties raising and caring for the child adequately. The questions below can identify all the issues that affect this factor:

  • What’s the physical health status of either parent?
  • What about their mental health history?
  • Do either party portray any short- or long-term health concerns?

The Child’s Involvement in Their School, Home, and The Community

This consideration factor is also crucial in determining custodial time. The court will want to know how they behave both in school and at home, their performance, and community involvement. As such, they’ll use the following questions to get this information:

  • Where does the child go to school?
  • What’s their class attendance record like?
  • How do they perform in class?
  • How do they perceive their current school?
  • Are they active in any extra-curricular activities?
  • Has the child ever faced a juvenile arrest?
  • How does the child relate with friends within the area?

The way the child relates to others in their current school, home, or community is crucial in determining custodial time. Courts rely on these questions for insights to make the right judgment on cases surrounding custodial time.

Need expert guidance on how to compute custodial time? Do you have a pending child support case and need expert advice from reputable industry leaders? Contact us today.

Marshal S. Willick