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More single fathers have sole custody of their children

Some New York residents may be interested in changing demographics regarding child custody that have evolved since 1960. According to a recently published Pew study, the number of households with a minor child headed by a single father has grown from one percent in 1960 to eight percent in 2011, representing a nine-fold increase for men as opposed to a four-fold increase for similar households headed by women. This data may reflect the growing number of single fathers who pursue sole custody of minor children.

From the 1960s until recently, custody decisions were based on what is best for the child, and often, physical child custody went to one parent with provisions for visitation by the non-custodial party. While such arrangement may still be in use on a case-by-case basis, more parents are becoming involved in joint custody arrangements.

While joint parenting is believed to be beneficial to the child, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies has postulated that shared custody arrangements have led to an increase in the number of single fathers. Some suggest that the increased role fathers are playing in joint parenting has led to their acknowledgement that they are capable of caring for their children in ways other than financially. Societal views of male parenting have changed and this, along with the inclination of the courts to support joint arrangements, has led to more men asking for increased parenting time and sole custody. In addition, sharing custody 50 percent of the time may result in logistically challenging situations as children move from one household to the next, which may result in more mothers allowing fathers to maintain sole custody.

While the trends and legislation regarding child custody may be changing, each case presents its own challenges. A parent who is involved in a complex child custody case may benefit from consultation with a family law attorney.

Source: Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends, 'The Rise of Single Fathers," 2013

Source: The Atlantic, "The Rise of the Single Dad", Caroline Kitchener , February 24, 2014

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