Number of Single Dads Rises Nine-Fold in 50 Years, Report Says

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Jul 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

We tend to hear a great deal about the (very real) struggles of single mothers.


However, our Birmingham child support attorneys know full well that there is a shifting tide in the make-up of American families. Part of that involves the growing number of single fathers in Alabama and across the country.

In fact, the Pew Research Center, analyzing the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, reports that there has been a nine-fold increase in the number of single fathers in the U.S. over the course of the last 50 years, when demographers first began measuring this statistic.

Figures from 1960 show that there were fewer than 300,000 households that were headed by single fathers. Fast-forward to 2011, that figures has ballooned to more than 2.6 million. That is more than twice the rate of growth of households headed by single mothers, which has quadrupled during that same time frame, from about 2 million to more than 8.6 million.

Yes, single mothers still vastly outweigh single fathers and the number of homes headed by single dads is still relatively small, about 8 percent. Still, these men make up one quarter of all single-parent households, compared to about 14 percent back in 1960.

During that same year, single parent households only made up about 8 percent of all homes. Today, single parents are heading about a third of all homes in the U.S.

Despite these growing numbers, there are some disparities between households led by single fathers versus those led by single moms. Single dads are more likely to have a partner living in the home. While technically the term single dad means "unmarried father who heads his household and lives with his own minor children," that doesn't necessarily mean he's the only parent who is present. More than 40 percent of single dads are co-habiting with a partner, compared to about 15 percent of single moms.

Single dads are more likely than married fathers to be younger, worse of financially and minorities.

Part of the reason for the increase in the number of single dads nationwide has to do with the overall rate of divorce since the early 1960s, which has grown exponentially. That has meant an uptick in the number of single partners of both sexes.

But there is also the matter of the courts tending to more often lend custody rights to the father in these cases. It used to be that mothers were all but automatically awarded custody. That is no longer what we're seeing.

This means two things: Fathers have a fighting chance at winning custody, and mothers seeking full custody can no longer simply phone it in.

This shift is part of a greater trend of a shifting of paternal roles at home. Women more frequently want a different work/life balance, but so do men. They want better relationships with their children than maybe what they had with their own dads, and they are committed to putting in that extra effort in taking on full custody.

We are here to help.

If you are struggling with child support or custody issues in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

Single fathers: Pew Research reports number of single dads has jumped in U.S., July 2, 2013, By Lisa Belkin, The Huffington Post

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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