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Increasing number of households are being led by single fathers

There are now approximately 2.6 million households in the country led by single fathers. This involves eight percent of households with children and represents one percentage point more than households headed by fathers in 1960. However, with a rising divorce rate this also represents nine times more single father households than existed in 1960. We can probably presume that there are also more single fathers in Pennsylvania than there used to be.

Single fatherhood is now considered increasingly normal. This has come about in part because our judicial system has shifted its standards in child custody cases. While rulings used to more frequently be made in favor of the mother, legislative changes have made joint parenting or joint physical custody common. Since then courts more frequently encourage that the children spend at least half of the time with the father rather than the majority of the time with the mother.

An unexpected result of such decisions was the number of fathers that also were granted sole custody of a child.  This came about because fathers began realizing that courts would rule in their favor.  However, it may also have come about because of an aversion of both parents to having a joint physical custody arrangement - an arrangement that can sometimes be complex for both the parents and the children.

Child custody matters will continue to revolve around factors as to what is in the best interest of the child.  It's still a good idea to provide an environment that is stable for a child.  It's also a good idea to be represented by an attorney in such matters to establish what the best interest of the child could be.

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

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