Research: Father-Only Households On the Rise


  • The United States Census Bureau's data on 2017's Families and Living Arrangements survey was published.
  • It said that over one quarter of children younger than the age of 18 live with one parent.
  • It also said that the percentage of children living in a father-only household increased to 16.1 percent in 2017.

Whether it is because of a divorce-related custody situation or general circumstances that life may create, many children grow up living in a household with only one parent. While the parent of the household may not be able to replace the missing parent, a child who has only known a house with only one parent may not know the difference.

The single parent household is a trend catching on, more specifically with fathers, according to recent data.

The data

The United States Census Bureau published the statistics from their 2017 America’s Families and Living Arrangements data and found that the percentage of children living with one parent, and that parent being their father, saw an increase from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 16.1 percent in 2017.

This is juxtaposed to the 83.9 percent of children that live with one parent, being their mothers. That’s a decrease from the 86 percent in 2012 and 87.5 percent in 2007. Overall, almost 20 million children younger than the age of 18 live with one parent, which translates to 27.1 percent of all living arrangements for children younger than the age of 18.

Best interests

Given that the number of fathers who do not work outside the home is approximately 2 million, as of 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, this should not be a surprising development. Given the price and availability of child care, many fathers have to do what they can, in order to ensure themselves and their children the best situation possible, especially if they are a divorced custodial parent or a solo parent.

Many courts also are coming to realize that the best interests of the child are what matters, rather than prioritizing the mother receiving custody. While the remnants of the “Tender Years Doctrine” still are something that many who enter family court are forced to deal with, it is no longer being seen across the board as the default position to take in child custody cases.

As the courts continue to prioritize the child’s needs, it becomes more and more clear that a mother has just as much of a chance of becoming an unfit parent, for various reasons, as a father does, and if a father does receive primary custody, he and his attorney have just as much a right to ask for child support or alimony as a custodial mother does.

Divorced dad

Much of the data that has to do with the father’s custodial situation revolves around the idea that he is divorced. Of children who live with one parent, the most common marital status of fathers is divorced at 43 percent.

The largest proportions of children who live with their fathers only are ages 12 to 17 at 43 percent, followed by the proportion ages 6 to 11 at 31 percent.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Debunking a myth

The continuous change occurring over the years debunks the myth of a “deadbeat dad”. Many dads are constantly seeking to have their place in their child’s life validated by a system that constantly wants to leave them in the margins.

Not only do dads want to provide for their children, but they also are willing to open up their homes and provide an environment for them to live and grow, not just visit. Many dads want to show their children that home is not just with mom and that they have more than just a couch to offer on every other weekend.

Dad cares

Dads care, and the notion that they do not is rooted in the notion that men who pursue divorce are inherently selfish for doing so. In seeking to end an unhappy and dysfunctional relationship and to pursue a better future for themselves and their children, they are better equipped to be the best parent that their child deserves.

Whether a dad has a co-parent or not, they understand how much a child depends on a parent. They can offer them the tools necessary to become a thriving and productive adult in today’s society, and the data gathered by the United States Census Bureau detail how many fathers in this country have been able to do so.

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