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Single fathers at the helm in many more households 

Some Colorado parents may find it interesting that the number of households led by single fathers has increased dramatically across the country. A Pew Research study published in mid-2013 suggested that such households represent eight percent of all American households with children. By contrast, in 1960, only one percent of households were led by single dads. Although single mothers also lead households more than ever, the rate of increase was more dramatic amongst dads.

This trend is attributed in part to an ancillary effect of newer legislation in many states that promotes joint physical custody of children. The belief is that these laws serve to empower single fathers to seek joint or even sole custody. There is also a view that such laws discourage mothers from wanting shared custody of their kids, whereas ole custody for one parent or the other is preferred. In some cases, they defer to fathers who want sole custody because they don't want their children shuttled back and forth between two homes. Other parents decide to let one or the other have sole custody because they are not prepared to both live near their kids' schools, for example.

These trends are supported by a study published in 2011 by the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. The study looked at the impact of Oregon's 1997 law that promoted joint physical custody. One of the co-authors of the research effort, a professor from Notre Dame, highlighted the occasional rejection of the idea of joint physical custody, even if it meant allowing the other parent to have sole custody.

Today, more child custody options are realistically available to parents than ever before. And with the help of a lawyer, fathers are increasingly seeing that having an active and consistent role in their kids' lives is a realistic and attainable goal.

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

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