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Here are some key statistics from the
Fathers and Families Web Site

Basic Facts

  • According to the U.S. Census Current Population Report on Custodial Mothers and Fathers and their Child Support:

- About 5 of every 6 custodial parents were mothers (84.4 percent) and 1 in 6 were fathers (15.6 percent), proportions statistically unchanged since 1994

  • According to a 1999 report of the Department of Health and Human Services:

-Girls without a father in their life are two and a half times as likely to get pregnant and 53 percent more likely to commit suicide.

-Boys without a father in their life are 63 percent more likely to run away and 37 percent more likely to abuse drugs.

-Both girls and boys are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to end up in jail and nearly four times as likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.

  • In 2003, 20,952 entries for divorce were filed in Massachusetts courts.
  • According to the Census Bureau's 2002 Survey of Women and Men in the United States:

-Men were more likely than women never to have been married (32 percent and 25 percent, respectively).

-Women were more likely than men to be divorced or separated (13 percent compared with 10 percent), and much more likely to be widowed (10 percent compared with 3 percent).

  • 75 percent of custodial mothers move at least once within four years after separation or divorce, according to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Report on Family Law: Relocation of Custodial Parents.
  • The following are recent statistics about children of divorce and separation from the newsletter Common Sense & Domestic Violence, 1998 01 30

    Allegations of family violence are the weapon-of-choice in divorce strategies. Lawyers, and paralegals in women's shelters, call them "The Silver Bullet". False abuse allegations work effectively in removing men from their families. The impact that the removal of fathers has on our children is horrific.

    The Impact on our Children Inter-spousal violence perpetrated by men is only a small aspect of family violence. False abuse allegations are only a small tile in the mosaic of vilifying the men in our society. They serve well in successful attempts to remove fathers from the lives of our children.

    Here are some statistics resulting from that, which show more of the whole picture.
    • 79.6% of custodial mothers receive a support award
    • 29.9% of custodial fathers receive a support award.
    • 46.9% of non-custodial mothers totally default on support.
    • 26.9% of non-custodial fathers totally default on support.
    • 20.0% of non-custodial mothers pay support at some level
    • 61.0% of non-custodial fathers pay support at some level
    • 66.2% of single custodial mothers work less than full time.
    • 10.2% of single custodial fathers work less than full time.
    • 7.0% of single custodial mothers work more than 44 hours weekly.
    • 24.5% of single custodial fathers work more that 44 hours weekly.
    • 46.2% of single custodial mothers receive public assistance.
    • 20.8% of single custodial fathers receive public assistance.
    [Technical Analysis Paper No. 42 - U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services - Office of Income Security Policy]
    • 40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the fathers visitation to punish their ex-spouse. ["Frequency of Visitation" by Sanford Braver, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry]
    • 50% of mothers see no value in the fathers continued contact with his children. ["Surviving the Breakup" by Joan Berlin Kelly]
    • 90.2% of fathers with joint custody pay the support due.
    • 79.1% of fathers with visitation privileges pay the support due.
    • 44.5% of fathers with no visitation pay the support due.
    • 37.9% of fathers are denied any visitation.
    • 66% of all support not paid by non-custodial fathers is due to the inability to pay. [1988 Census "Child Support and Alimony: 1989 Series" P-60, No. 173 p.6-7, and "U.S. General Accounting Office Report" GAO/HRD-92-39FS January 1992]
    • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [U. S. D.H.H.S. Bureau of the Census]
    • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
    • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
    • 80% of rapist motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 p. 403-26]
    • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
    • 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes [U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept., 1988]
    • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia Jail Populations and Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992]
    • Nearly 2 of every 5 children in America do not live with their fathers. [US News and World Report, February 27, 1995, p.39]

    There are:
    • 11,268,000 total custodial mothers
    • 2,907,000 total custodial fathers
    [Current Populations Reports, US Bureau of the Census, Series P-20, No. 458, 1991]

    What does this mean? Children from fatherless homes are:
    • 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide,
    • 6.6 times to become teenaged mothers (if they are girls),
    • 24.3 times more likely to run away,
    • 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders,
    • 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions,
    • 10.8 times more likely to commit rape,
    • 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school,
    • 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.
    (The calculation of the relative risks shown in the preceding list is based on 27% of children being in the care of single mothers.)

    AND — compared to children who are in the care of two biological, married parents — children who are in the care of single mothers are:
    • 33 times more likely to be seriously abused (so that they will require medical attention), and
    • 73 times more likely to be killed.["Marriage: The Safest Place for Women and Children", by Patrick F. Fagan and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D. Backgrounder #1535.]

    According to U.S. Census Bureau and from the textbook: Diversity In Families, 7th edition, c. 2005, by Maxine Baca Zinn and D. Stanley Eitzen the following is true:

    •The disproportionate number of single-parent families headed by a woman is a consequence, first, of the relatively high divorce rate and the very strong tendency for divorced and separated women to have custody of their children. Second, there is the relatively high rate of never-married mothers (in 1960, 5 percent of US babies were born to unmarried mothers; in 2000, one-third were).

    •In 2001, 26 percent of the children living in single-parent families headed by women were poor, compared to 5 percent of children in two-parent families.

    •About 16 percent of all children living with a single parent reside with their father. In Eaton, Ingham, Clinton, and Ionia counties, 13,960 households were headed by a single parent in 2000, and about 2,200 of those households were headed by single fathers.
Father Facts:

Children who have fathers who regularly engage them in physical play are more likely to be socially popular with their peers than children whose fathers do not engage them in this type of play.

Source: Carson, J., V. Burks, & R.D. Parke. "Parent-child Play: Determinants and Consequences." In K. MacDonald (Ed.), Parent-child Play: Descriptions and Implications. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993: 197-220; see also Parke, R.D. "Fathers and Families." In M.H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of Parenting: Vol. 3, Status and Social Conditions of Parenting. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1995: 27-63

For predicting a child's self-esteem, it is ...physical affection from fathers that matters for daughters.

Source: Duncan, Greg J., Martha Hill, and W. Jean Yeung. "Fathers' Activities and Children's Attainments." Paper presented at the Conference on Father Involvement, October 10-11, 1996, Washington, D.C., pp. 5-6.

Children with "hands-on" fathers (fathers who are involved, set reasonable household rules, monitor TV and internet use, etc.) are much less likely to use drugs than children with "hands-off" or absent fathers.

Source: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VI:

In a study of fathers' interaction with their children in intact two-parent families, nearly 90% of the fathers surveyed said that being a father is the most fulfilling role a man can have.

Source: Yeung, W. Jean, et al. "Children's Time with Fathers in Intact Families." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Chicago, IL, August, 2000.

A study using a national probability sample of 1,250 fathers showed that children whose fathers share meals, spend leisure time with them, or help them with reading or homework do significantly better academically than those children whose fathers do not.

Source: Cooksey, Elizabeth C. and Michelle M. Fondell. "Spending Time with His Kids: Effects of Family Structure on Fathers' and Children's Lives." Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (August 1996): 693-707

Utilizing a sample of 1,052 children born between 1956 and 1962 and followed until 1985, it was found that the children whose fathers were substantially involved in parent-teacher activities completed more schooling and enjoyed higher wages and family income as adults compared to those whose fathers had little or no involvement in parent-teacher activities.

Source: Duncan, Greg J., Martha Hill, and W. Jean Yeung. "Fathers' Activities and Children's Attainments." Paper presented at the Conference on Father Involvement, October 10-11, 1996, Washington, D.C., pp. 5-6

Father-child interaction has been shown to promote a child's well-being, perceptual abilities, and competency for relatedness with others, even at a young age.

Source: Krampe, E.M. and P.D. Fairweather. "Father Presence and Family Formation: A Theoretical Reformulation." Journal of family Issues 14.4 (December 1993): 572-591.

A study on parent-infant attachment found that fathers who were affectionate, spent time with their children, and overall had a positive attitude were more likely to have securely attached infants.

Source: Cox, M.J., et al. "Prediction of Infant-Father and Infant-Mother Attachment." Developmental Psychology 28 (1992): 474-483.

Fathers with more flexible work schedules report less role strain and lower levels of marital, professional, and parental stress.

Source: Guelzow, M.G., G.W. Bird, and E.H. Koball. "An Exploratory Path of the Stress Process for Dual-Career Men and Women." Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (1991): 151-164.

According to a 1996 Gallup Poll, 90.3 percent of Americans agree that "fathers make a unique contribution to their children's lives."

Source: Gallup Poll, 1996. National Center for Fathering. "Father Figures." Today's Father 4.1 (1996): 8.

A survey by the Radcliffe Public Policy Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts found that over 80 percent of men ages 20 to 39 said having a work schedule that allows them to spend time with their family is more important than doing challenging work or earning a high salary.

Source: Life's Work: Generational Attitudes toward Work and Life Integration. Cambridge, MA: The Radcliffe Public Policy Center, 2000.

Seventy percent of men ages 21-39 said they want to spend more time with their families and would be willing to sacrifice to do so.

Source: Life's Work: Generational Attitudes toward Work and Life Integration. Cambridge, MA: The Radcliffe Public Policy Center, 2000.

Using a national probability sample, father involvement correlates with fewer behavior problems exhibited by their children. This finding holds after controlling for the level of maternal involvement.

Source: Amato, Paul R., and Fernando Rivera. "Paternal Involvement and Children's Behavior Problems." Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 (1999): 375-384

Mothers and fathers are equally sensitive to the needs of infants and preschoolers.

Source: Goossens, F.A., and M.H. Van Ijzendoorn. "Quality of Infant's Attachment to Professional Caregivers: Relation to Infant-Parent Attachment and Day-Care Characteristics." Child Development 61 (1990): 832-837

"Fathers tend to play games with their children that involve more physical activity, teamwork, and mental skills. Often their games involve more competition, independence, risk-taking, and initiative. Fathers may act as if they are teachers and their children are apprentices. They focus on the long-term development and well-being of their children. "

Source: Popenoe, David. Life Without Father. New York: Martin Kessler Books, The Free Press, 1996. 143-145.

"Children whose fathers were highly involved in their schools were more likely to do well academically, to participate in extracurricular activities, and to enjoy school, and were less likely to have ever repeated a grade or been expelled compared to children whose fathers were less involved in their schools..."

Source: Nord, Christine Windquist. Students Do Better When Their Fathers Are Involved at School (NCES 98-121). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1998

A study of 1330 children from the PSID showed that fathers who are involved on a personal level with their child schooling increases the likelihood of their child's achievement. When fathers assume a positive role in their child's education, students feel a positive impact.

McBride, Brent A., Sarah K. Schoppe-Sullivan, and Moon-Ho Ho. "The mediating role of fathers' school involvement on student achievement." Applied Developmental Psychology 26 (2005): 201-216

Higher levels of father involvement in activities with their children, such as eating meals together, helping with homework, and going on family outings, has been found to be associated with fewer child behavior problems, higher levels of sociability, and higher levels of academic performance in children and adolescents.

Source: Mosley, J., and E. Thomson. "Fathering Behavior and Child Outcomes: The Role of Race and Poverty." In W. Marsiglio (ed.), Fatherhood: Contemporary Theory, Research and Social Policy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1995: 148-165. 

A Mastercard survey found that close to 85% of fathers polled said "the most priceless gift of all" was time spent with their family.

Source: Harper, Jennifer. "Americans Celebrate Dad Today in All of His Different Guises." Washington Times, June 18, 2000: c1.

"Statistics show that when children grow up without a mom and dad at home, they're more likely to fall behind in school, more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, more likely to be in trouble with the law. And boys who grow up without fathers are more likely to become fathers themselves at a young age, perpetuating a cycle of absentee fatherhood that has terrible consequences generation after generation. The evidence is clear: Children need fathers in their lives."

First Lady Laura Bush, Speaking at National Fatherhood Initiative's 2005 Fatherhood Awards Gala in Washington, D.C., April 19, 2005


"Dad is my buddy."



According to 72.2 % of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. --Source: National Center for Fathering, Fathering in America Poll, January, 1999.


An estimated 24.7 million children (36.3%) live absent their biological father. --Source: National Fatherhood Initiative, Father Facts, (3rd Edition): 5.


Children who were part of the "post war generation" could expect to grow up with two biological parents who were married to each other. Eighty percent did. Today, only about 50% of children will spend their entire childhood in an intact family. --Source: David Poponoe, American Family Decline, 1960-1990: A Review and Appraisal Journal of Marriage and Family 55 (August 1993).


With the increasing number of premarital births and a continuing high divorce rate, the proportion of children living with just one parent rose from 9 percent in 1960 to 28 percent in 1996. Currently, 57.7 percent of all black children, 31.8 percent of all Hispanic children, and 20.9 percent of all white children are living in single-parent homes. --Source: Saluter, Arlen F. Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1994., US Bureau of the Census, Current Population Report. p28-484. Washington, DC: GPO, 1996. US Bureau of the Census. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1997, Washington, DC: GPO, 1997.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, "Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse" --Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. Survey on Child Health. Washington, DC, 1993.


Children growing up in single-parent households are at a significantly increased risk for drug abuse as teenagers. --Source: Denton, Rhonda E. and Charlene M. Kampfe. "The relationship Between Family Variables and Adolescent Substance Abuse: A literature Review." Adolescence 114 (1994): 475-495.


Children who live apart from their fathers are 4.3 times more likely to smoke cigarettes as teenagers than children growing up with their fathers in the home. --Source: Stanton, Warren R., Tian P.S. Oci and Phil A. Silva. "Sociodemographic characteristics of Adolescent Smokers." The International Journal of the Addictions 7 (1994): 913-925.


Children in single-parent families are two to three times as likely as children in two-parent families to have emotional and behavioral problems. --Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics."National Health Interview Survey." Hyattsville, MD, 1988.


Three out of four teenage suicides occur in households where a parent has been absent. --Source: Elshtain, Jean Bethke."Family Matters: The Plight of America's Children." The Christian Century (July 1993): 14-21.


In studies involving over 25,000 children using nationally representative data sets, children who lived with only one parent had lower grade point averages, lower college aspirations, poor attendance records, and higher drop out rates than students who lived with both parents. --Source: McLanahan, Sara and Gary Sandefur. Growing up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994.


Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school. --Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. Survey on Child Health. Washington, DC; GPO, 1993.


School children from divorced families are absent more, and more anxious, hostile, and withdrawn, and are less popular with their peers than those from intact families. --Source: One-Parent Families and Their Children: The School's Most Significant Minority. The Consortium for the Study of School Needs of Children from One-Parent Families. National Association of elementary School Principals and the Institute for Development of Educational Activities, a division of the Charles f. Kettering Foundation. Arlington, VA 1980.


Children in single parent families are more likely to be in trouble with the law than their peers who grow up with two parents. --Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey. Hyattsville, MD, 1988.


Adolescent females between the ages of 15 and 19 years reared in homes without fathers are significantly more likely to engage in premarital sex than adolescent females reared in homes with both a mother and a father. --Source: Billy, John O. G., Karin L. Brewster and William R. Grady. "Contextual Effects on the Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Women." Journal of Marriage and Family 56(1994): 381-404


A white teenage girl from an advantaged background is five times more likely to become a teen mother if she grows up in a single-mother household than if she grows up in a household with both biological parents. --Source: Whitehead, Barbara Dafoe. "Facing the Challenges of Fragmented Families." The Philanthropy Roundtable 9.1 (1995): 21.


Over half of Americans agree that most people have unresolved problems with their fathers. Cumulatively, 55.6% agreed with this statement, up from 54.1% in our 1996 poll. More non-whites (70.4%) than whites (56.3%) were in agreement. Interestingly, the generation who has experienced more father absence, 18- to 24-year-olds, displayed the highest level of agreement (67.2%). Income was also a differentiating factor: of the respondents making $25,000 or less, 70.1% agreed, compared to only 48.0% among those who make more than $50,000. Source National Center For Fathering 1996



Direct Result of Fatherlessness:

 · 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.

(Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).

· 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.

· 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.

(Source: Center for Disease Control).

· 80% of rapist motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes.

(Source: Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14, pp. 403-26).

· 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.

(Source: National Principals Assoc. Report on the State of High Schools).

· 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home.

(Source: Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. Of Corrections, 1992).

Study: Non-Resident Fathers Who Stay Involved In Children's Lives Have Positive Effect

February 9, 2007 4:31 p.m. EST

Linda Young - All Headline News Staff Writer

Boston, MA (AHN) - Researchers at Boston College have found that even fathers who don't live with their children can have a positive effect if they simply stay involved in their children's lives.

"Greater involvement from fathers may help adolescents develop self-control and self-competence, and may decrease the opportunities adolescents have to engage in problem behaviors," researchers at Boston College said in a statement released Wednesday.

The study revealed that youths were less likely to take part in behavior such as drug and alcohol use, violence, property crime and school problems like truancy and cheating if their fathers stayed involved with them.

That is good news for a nation where more juveniles live in single-parent homes.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the proportion of children living in single-parent homes more than doubled between 1970 and 2005. It increased from 12 percent to 28 percent.

"Nonresident fathers in low-income, minority families appear to be an important protective factor for adolescents," said Rebekah Levine Coley, professor of applied development and educational psychology at Boston College and the study's lead author.

Over 16-months, researchers studied 647 adolescents from primarily African American and Hispanic families, most of them living with their mothers in poverty.

Researchers also found, that black parents, unlike white parents, did not pull away from their children when they became involved in delinquent behavior.

That is also important because more than half of all black children (55 percent) live with only one parent, compared to less than one-quarter (23 percent) of white children, according to Office of Juvenile Justice figures.

The Boston College study is published in the January/February issue of the journal "Child Development."