Report: More single fathers gaining primary custody

When it comes to child custody matters, most people envision the following scenario: the mother gets primary physical custody of the child/children while the father gets visitation rights (i.e., he gets to spend weekends and/or certain nights of the week with the child/children).

While this is not entirely inaccurate, it’s important to acknowledge that this dynamic is slowly but surely shifting, as more and more fathers are actively seeking – and securing – primary custody of their children.

“It’s time for us to stop assuming that single parents are always women,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University. “There is a visible presence now of single men caring for their kids. We didn’t see that a few decades ago.”

To illustrate, consider recent data collected from the 2010 U.S. Census:

  • 8 percent of all U.S. households with children are now headed by single fathers (as compared with only 1.1 percent back in 1950)
  • The number of U.S. households with children that are headed by single fathers has grown by 27.3 percent over the last decade (it grew by 37.9 percent from 1990 to 2000)

What exactly is behind this sustained growth in the numbers of single father households?

Many experts point to changes in child custody laws over the last three decades recognizing the value of having both parents present in the life of a child. Specifically, all 50 states have enacted laws favoring joint parenting in some form.

“If the dad is really interested in getting custody and wants to have a relationship with his kids, he is far more successful than he was 20 years ago,” said Professor Margaret Brinig of the University of Notre Dame Law School.

Another factor that experts believe may be contributing to the larger number of U.S. households headed by single fathers is the evolution of gender roles, meaning both women and men are now active members of the workforce, while men are also consciously choosing to become more involved in the lives of their children.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about child custody, fathers’ rights or visitation, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Single-dad courtroom wins show greater embrace of new families (Bloomberg News)