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Fathers in Court

4 Divorced Dads Statistics that the System Helps Create

We’ve all heard high divorce rate statistics, and most of us know someone who has been divorced. It’s a common situation in today’s society. We also know that when people who have children divorce the children are often put in the middle of it. What most people don’t know is that the way the legal system is set up harms families far more than the divorce itself does, leaving children to bear the brunt of a broken system.


“High conflict custody cases are very challenging, but far too often family courts cause incredible pain and suffering for fathers who desperately want to be in the lives of their children, as well as the children themselves.” said Dads’ Resource Center Executive Director Jeff Steiner. “Parents cannot be allowed to rely on the courts to manage their inability to get along on behalf of their children. If there are no credible issues of abuse or problematic lifestyles, the standard should be shared custody with equal parenting time.”


Dads’ Resource Center is on a mission to shed light on the fact that divorcing dads don’t get a fair shake when it comes to custody. At the heart of the problem, they say, is the system that treats them unfairly. When the systemic problems regarding divorce and custody play out around the country, we are left with a nation that feels a wide variety of negative effects.


Here are 4 divorced dads’ statistics that the system helps create:


  1. In contested custody cases, parents are awarded joint custody in only 1 out of every 7 cases. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that only 17% of custodial parents are fathers. It’s not that they don’t want custody, but that the courts are set up to not give it to them.



  1. According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, divorced men are eight times more likely to commit suicide than divorced women. The report says that many courts in America have an implicit assumption that the bond between a woman and her child is stronger than between a man and his child. As such, mothers usually get custody, leaving dads to largely lose their children.



  1. While a variety of factors will influence what the cost of a custody battle runs, estimates are that it can be up to $40,000. Most dads don’t have that kind of money lying around to contest a system that has pushed him out and is likely to continue to keep him on the outside. Long-term custody cases are good for the lawyers who work them, but they are money that would be better spent caring for the child.



  1. National Parents Organization conducted a study and issued the 2022 NPO Child Support and Shared Parenting Report Card. They found shocking results, with nine states not having no shared parenting, and the overwhelming majority of states having child support guidelines that inhibit shared parenting. This is a situation where the children and dad both lose.


“Unfortunately, many judges, lawyers, guardian ad litems, as well as county and state agencies, and the welfare system, are ALL culpable in creating, or at the very least exacerbating, this very serious problem,” said Dads’ Resource Center Chairman Dr. Joel N. Myers. “Whatever their well-meaning intentions might be, they play big roles in maintaining and bolstering a system that discourages, inhibits or flat-out denies children from having access to their fathers. More than any other project or cause that society needs to work on, we all must work with passion and urgency to eliminate the systemic barriers to single-father involvement in the lives of our children.”



Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Divorce and suicide risk. 


National Parents Organization. Child support and shared parenting report card. 


U.S. Census Bureau. Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support.

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