Census Data Shows Sharp Rise In Single Father Households In Us

Census data shows sharp rise in single-father households in U.S.

In last week’s post, we wrote that there have been some noticeable changes to the family law landscape over the past several decades. These include a rise in the number of “gray divorces,” a rise in the number of divorces being initiated by women and a slight decline in divorce rates due to more young people choosing cohabitation over marriage.

Among the trends we discussed last week, child custody was not mentioned. However, there have been some significant changes here as well. Notably, data from the Pew Research Center shows that over the past half-century, there has been significant rise in the number of single dads raising children in the U.S.

It used to be the assumption that mothers would be awarded custody of their children in the event of a divorce. Men having primary custody of their children was a rare exception.

While custody awards are still far from even, an analysis of census data shows that single dads are gaining ground. In 1960, less than 300,000 households in the United States were run by single fathers. Today, there are about 2.6 million, or nine times the number recorded just over a half-century ago.

Some of this growth can be explained by the overall growth in population. But single-father households are growing at twice the rate of single-mother households. The Pew Research Center says that men now compromise about a quarter of single-parent households in the U.S., compared to just 14 percent in 1960.

There are likely several contributing factors to this trend. One reason for the increase is a shift in custody awards, and a recognition by family law judges that men are now taking a more active role in child rearing than they once were. Additionally, because it is now common for both men and women to work outside the home, there is no longer such a clear divide between the “breadwinner” role and “homemaker” role.

Whether here in New Jersey or elsewhere around the country, most family law judges try to make decisions that are in the best interests of the children. That often means keeping both parents as involved as possible. But if one parent must be favored, its good to know that devoted dads now have more consideration than they once did.

Source: Huffington Post, “Single Fathers: Pew Research Reports Number Of Single Dads Has Jumped In U.S.,” Lisa Belkin, July 2, 3013


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