In 1960, there were fewer than 300,000 single-parent households in the United States headed by fathers. By 2011, according to data from a Pew Research study, the number of single-parent households headed by dads had reached a staggering 2.6 million. Meanwhile, the number of single-parent households headed by mothers saw a four-fold increase from 1960 to 2011.
Those numbers might surprise a lot of readers, especially given the common perception that the courts tend to favor mothers when dealing with disputes over child custody. But what many may not appreciate is that many states, including Minnesota, have shifted the standard for determining child custody matters away from simply the “best interest of the child” (which often tended to tip the scales toward the mother) to one that emphasizes joint physical custody by parents.
Experts say the theory behind promoting joint physical custody is the idea that the default ideal should be one that assumes that the best interest of the child is served by equal time with both parents. But some analysts suggest that the change in the laws is one of the main reasons why there’s been a rise in father-led, single-parent households.
They say the laws encourage dads to seek more parenting time than they have in the past. At the same time, as societal attitudes shift, mothers are more willing to relinquish their traditional hold in this area.
Joint physical custody may not be the ideal for all families of divorce. Experts say putting physical custody in the hands of one parent or the other may not only be preferred from the adults’ perspective, but it might also be seen as a good way to prevent confusion for the children.
Assessing all options and finding what works best for all concerned is something that is best done by working with an attorney.
Source: The Atlantic, “The Rise of the Single Dad,” Caroline Kitchener, Feb. 24, 2014