Thursday, April 03, 2014

Top 5 Myths About Single Fathers

Since 1973, the number of father only families has increased at a faster rate than has the number of mother-only families.  Today, 15% of all single-parent families are headed by a father.  Fathers facing divorce should consider carefully any decision they make about child custody that is based on old, outmoded ideas of "traditional" roles.  And although they are  changing somewhat slower than the rest of society, the courts are coming around to the realization that fathers can make just as successful single parents as mothers.  So it is time to reexamine some of the old myths about single fathers.

Myth #1:  Fathers who gain custody were themselves products of single-parent families.

There is no evidence to suggest that fathers who are awarded custody of their children were raised in any specific way.  Studies in the 1980s show that 80% of fathers who are awarded custody grew up in a two-parent households, but this was likely to be the result of a generational difference because divorces were far less common in the 1950s and 1960s than they are today.  Today's single father can come from any kind of background and upbringing.

Myth #2: Custodial fathers have high incomes

It is well documented that there is an extremely high percentage of mother-only families that are below the poverty level.  What is less well know is that more than 18 percent of father-only families are poor.  Another 21 percent are just above the poverty line.  If there is a custody dispute, the ability to afford a child is indeed one of the factors the court will decide in determining who gets custody. Higher income will give one party and advantage- if combined with other factors.  But remember, the amount of income is only relative to the other parent.  If both parents receive the same amount of income, even if it is very little, this will not sway the courts.

Myth #3: Most Custodial Fathers have remarried.

Although custodial fathers are more likely to be married than custodial mothers, the fact is that most custodial fathers (59%) are not currently married. 

Myth #4:  Custodial Fathers primarily receive custody of older boys

This myth really has two parts: first, the fathers primarily obtained custody of older children and second that fathers are more likely to receive custody of boys.  It is true that the children living in father-only families are older than those living in mother-only families.  This may be a hang-over effect of the "tender-years doctrine" which favored women over men for custody of young children.  Many family courts followed the doctrine for years, but it has fallen aside with other stereotypes and is not a lawful factor in Texas courts.  Still, 17.5 percent of single-father families include children younger than three, and about a third contain a preschooler.  Similarly, although children in father-only families are somewhat more likely to be boys, 44 percent of all children in such families are girls.

Myth #5:  Most custodial fathers are widowers.

This may have been true at one time, but being a widower is not were you will find most custodial fathers today.  In fact, you will only find 7.5 percent of single father households being widowers today.  As a matter of fact, 24.5 percent of single father households are headed by never-married fathers.

Many fathers make their decisions about whether to seek custody based on outmoded ideas about what is acceptable in society and in the courts.  But these myths need to be busted and fathers need to based their decisions on the real and current facts.  If you are a father involved in a custody battle, you need to seek the truth from an experienced family law attorney who will help you separate fact from fiction.  For more information, please visit us at