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The role of primary caregiver is being fulfilled by an increasing number of single American fathers.

Although single mother households still outnumber them — representing around 8.6 million households in 2011, based on a Pew Research study — the rise of the single father has been dramatic in the last 50 years. In 1960, they accounted for only one percent of households. Yet according to that research study, single fathers now account for around 8 percent of households in the country that have minor children. In 2011, that translated into over 2.6 million households. 

Researchers in the study explain the demographic shift, in part, to shifting child custody laws. Specifically, the interpretation of the best interest of the child standard may no longer create a presumption in favor of the mother having primary custody. Instead, that parenting responsibility is often declared a joint responsibility by many divorce and family law courts in California and nationwide.

A divorce and child custody attorney knows that a divorce decree granting joint legal custody of minor children can create scheduling hassles for divorcing parents. Instead of seeing less of each other, the scheduling of visitation may require continued contact with a former spouse.

However, there are proactive approaches to scheduling, and an experienced family law attorney may have some helpful strategies to suggest. For example, a court order that thoroughly describes each parent’s responsibilities during holidays, unanticipated emergencies, and other contingencies might be able to avoid disputes or scheduling conflicts later on. An attorney might help negotiate those issues before the divorce decree is finalized.

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