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Single custodial parents - some facts and thoughts

Source and further demographics: Here (excel) and Here (csv)

Of note in analysis: Percentages given in diagram appear to be rounded. Rounding could cause some numbers to not add up correctly, but be off by plus or minus .1%. Numbers below differ from the chart in the same amount.

85.3% of ALL custodial single parents are mothers. Only 14.7% are fathers.

80.7% of all custodial single fathers are at or above the poverty level. 19.3% of all custodial single fathers are below the poverty level.
74.1% of all custodial single fathers are employed. 25.2% are not employed.

88.8% of employed custodial single fathers are at or above the poverty level, while only 11.2% of employed are below the poverty level.
8.4% of all custodial fathers are working poor.

63.9% of unemployed custodial single fathers are at or above the poverty level, while 36.1% are below it.
50% of custodial single fathers who are not in the workforce are at or above the poverty level, and 50% below it.

56.8% of total nonworking custodial single fathers are at or above the poverty level, while 43.2% are below it.
10.9% of all custodial single fathers are nonworking poor.
3.7% of all custodial single parents are fathers who do not have a job, approximately 2/5 of whom are under the poverty level.



62.6% of all custodial single mothers are at or above the poverty level.
37.4% of all custodial single mothers are below the poverty level. 
65.0% of all custodial single mothers are employed. 35% are not employed. 

76.4% of employed custodial single mothers are at or above the poverty level, while 23.6% of
     employed are below the poverty level.
15.3% of all custodial mothers are working poor.

42.6% of unemployed custodial single mothers are at or above the poverty level, while 57.4% are below it.
33.8% of custodial single mothers who are not in the workforce are at or above the poverty level, while 66.2% are below it.
36.7% of total nonworking custodial single mothers are at or above the poverty level, while 63.3% are below it.
22.1% of all custodial single mothers are nonworking poor.
29.8% of all custodial single parents (more than 1 in 4) are mothers who do not have a job, approximately 4/5 of whom are under the poverty level



In raw numbers, there are more custodial single mothers who are not in the workforce (no job) than the total number of custodial single fathers.
The percentage of all custodial single mothers who are nonworking poor (22.1%) is higher than the total number of custodial single fathers who are poor (19.3%)

88.9% of nonworking custodial single parents are mothers. Only 11.1% are fathers.
91.9% of custodial single parents living below the poverty level are mothers. Only 8.1% are fathers.
92.7% of custodial single parents with an income under $10,000 a year are mothers. Only 7.3% are fathers.
91.8% of custodial single parents with an income under $20,000 a year are mothers. Only 8.2% are fathers.
91.4% of working poor custodial single parents are mothers. Only 8.6% are fathers.
92.2% of nonworking poor custodial single parents are mothers. Only 7.8% are fathers.

95% of custodial single teen parents are mothers. Only 5% are fathers.

Only 4% of custodial single parents have 4 or more children at home.
91.6% of custodial single parents with 4 or more of their own children in the home are mothers. Only 8.4% are fathers.
However:

61.5% of custodial single fathers with 4 or more of their own children in the home are employed.

52.3 of custodial single mothers with 4 or more of their own children in the home do not have jobs.

Only 3.1% of custodial single parents have a family group with 6 or more people.
91.2% of custodial single parents with a family group of 6 people or more are mothers. Only 8.8% are fathers.

Custodial fathers make up only 14.7% of total custodial single parents, but they account for 21.3% of custodial single parents with an income over $100,000 a year. They only make up 7.3% of custodial single parents with an income under $10,000 a year.


So what we're seeing here is a pattern... a higher percentage of single custodial mothers than single custodial fathers
  • Don't have jobs
  • Earn low income
  • Do not have enough non-employment income to be above the poverty level without being employed
  • Have custody of four or more children
  • Combine joblessness with multiple child custody
  • Become custodial parents as teens

On the other hand, a higher percentage of single custodial fathers than single custodial mothers

  • Have jobs
  • Earn high income
  • Have enough non-employment income to be above the poverty level without being employed
  • Have custody of only one child
  • Maintain employment when they do have custody of multiple children

The raises the question of why fathers are not given primary custody more often. Given their greater likelihood of a supporting income, and the importance placed on financial stability during child support disputes, wouldn't it be in the best interests of the child to be placed in the more financially stable home to begin with? Certainly, whenever the mother is unemployed or low income, and the father works, and/or has a higher income, that should weigh heavily in his favor in a custody dispute.

Unfortunately for the family, there's a pretty big incentive in the form of federal funding for courts to award  child support payments in divorce cases and states to collect that money. Paternal custody where paternal income is high can reduce or eliminate the need for child support awards, and state involvement in collection. This may be one reason which would explain the higher percentage of custodial single mothers under the poverty level, as opposed to the lower percentage of custodial single fathers in that circumstance.

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