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Divorce and Fatherhood Statistics

61% of all child abuse is committed by biological mothers
25% of all child abuse is committed by natural fathers
Statistical Source: Current DHHS report on nationwide Child Abuse

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 than 44 hours weekly
46.2% of single custodial mothers receive public assistance
20.8% of single custodial fathers receive public assistance
Statistical Source: Technical Analysis Paper No. 42 - U.S. Dept. of Health & Human
Services - Office of Income Security Policy

90.2% of fathers with joint custody pay all the support due
79.1% of fathers with visitation privileges pay all the support due
44.5% of fathers with no visitation pay all the support due
37.9% of fathers are denied any visitation
66.0% of all support not paid by non-custodial fathers is due to inability to pay Statistical Source: 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

50% of mothers see no value in the father's continued contact with his children.
--See "Surviving the Breakup" by Joan Berlin Kelly

40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the father's visitation to punish their ex-spouse.
--See "Frequency of Visitation...." by Stanford Braver, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry

63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes --U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census
85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes --Center for Disease Control
80% of rapists 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 & Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992
Translated, this means that children from a fatherless home are:

  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state operated institution
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

There are: 11,268,000 total U.S. custodial mothers and 2,907,000 total U.S. custodial fathers
--Current Population Reports, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Series P-20, No. 458, 1991

In a study of 700 adolescents, researchers found that "compared to families with two natural parents living in the home, adolescents from single-parent families have been found to engage in greater and earlier sexual activity."
Source: Carol W. Metzler, et al. "The Social Context for Risky Sexual Behavior Among Adolescents", Journal of Behavioral Medicine 17 (1994).

"Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality."
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.

"Teenagers living in single-parent households are more likely to abuse alcohol and at an earlier age compared to children reared in two-parent households."
Source: Terry E. Duncan, Susan C. Duncan and Hyman Hops, "The Effects of Family Cohesiveness and Peer Encouragement on the Development of Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Cohort-Sequential Approach to the Analysis of Longitudinal Data", Journal of Studies on Alcohol 55 (1994).

"...the absence of the father in the home affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in the greater use of alcohol and marijuana."
Source: Deane Scott Berman "Risk Factors Leading to Adolescent Substance Abuse", Adolescence 30 (1995)

A study of 156 victims of child sexual abuse found that the majority of the children came from disrupted or single-parent homes; only 31 percent of the children lived with both biological parents. Although stepfamilies make up only about 10 percent of all families, 27 percent of the abused children lived with either a stepfather or the mother's boyfriend.
Source: Beverly Gomes-Schwartz, Jonathan Horowitz, and Albert P. Cardarelli, "Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Their Treatment", U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justce and Delinquency Prevention.

Researchers in Michigan determined that "49 percent of all child abuse cases are committed by single mothers."
Source: Joan Ditson and Sharon Shay, "A Study of Child Abuse in Lansing, Michigan", Child Abuse and Neglect, 8 (1984).

"A family structure index -- a composite index based on the annual rate of children involved in divorce and the percentage of families with children present that are female-headed -- is a strong predictor of suicide among young adult and adolescent white males."
Source: Patricia L. McCall and Kenneth C. Land, "Trends in White Male Adolescent, Young-Adult and Elderly Suicide: Are There Common Underlying Structural Factors?" Social Science Research 23, 1994.

" Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of suicide."
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.

In a study of 146 adolescent friends of 26 adolescent suicide victims, teens living in single-parent families are not only more likely to commit suicide but also more likely to suffer from psychological disorders, when compared to teens living in intact families.
Source: David A. Brent, et al. "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Peers of Adolescent Suicide Victims: Predisposing Factors and Phenomenology.", Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34, 1995.

"Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely that those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity."
Source: P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, "Fatherless Children", New York, Wiley Press, 1984.

"In 1988, a study of preschool children admitted to New Orleans hospitals as psychiatric patients over a 34-month period found that nearly 80 percent came from fatherless homes."
Source: Jack Block, et al. "Parental Functioning and the Home Environment in Families of Divorce", Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27 (1988)

"Children living with a never-married mother are more likely to have been treated for emotional problems."
Source: L. Remez, "Children Who Don't Live with Both Parents Face Behavioral Problems," Family Planning Perspectives (January/February 1992).

Children reared by a divorced or never-married mother are less cooperative and score lower on tests of intelligence than children reared in intact families. Statistical analysis of the behavior and intelligence of these children revealed "significant detrimental effects " of living in a female-headed household. Growing up in a female-headed household remained a statistical predictor of behavior problems even after adjusting for differences in family income.
Source: Greg L. Duncan, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Pamela Kato Klebanov, "Economic Deprivation and Early Childhood Development", Child Development 65 (1994).

"Compared to peers in two-parent homes, black children in single-parent households are more likely to engage in troublesome behavior, and perform poorly in school."
Source: Tom Luster and Hariette Pipes McAdoo, "Factors Related to the Achievement and Adjustment of Young African-American Children.", Child Development 65 (1994): 1080-1094

"Even controlling for variations across groups in parent education, race and other child and family factors, 18- to 22-year-olds from disrupted families were twice as likely to have poor relationships with their mothers and fathers, to show high levels of emotional distress or problem behavior, [and] to have received psychological help."
Source: Nicholas Zill, Donna Morrison, and Mary Jo Coiro, "Long Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships, Adjustment and Achievement in Young Adulthood",
Journal of Family Psychology 7 (1993).

"Children with fathers at home tend to do better in school, are less prone to depression and are more successful in relationships. Children from one-parent families achieve less and get into trouble more than children from two parent families."
Source: One Parent Families and Their Children: The School's Most Significant Minority, conducted by The Consortium for the Study of School Needs of Children from One Parent Families, co sponsored by the 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 whose parents separate are significantly more likely to engage in early sexual activity, abuse drugs, and experience conduct and mood disorders. This effect is especially strong for children whose parents separated when they were five years old or younger."
Source: David M. Fergusson, John Horwood and Michael T. Lynsky, "Parental Separation, Adolescent Psychopathology, and Problem Behaviors", Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 33 (1944)

"Compared to peers living with both biological parents, sons and daughters of divorced or separated parents exhibited significantly more conduct problems. Daughters of divorced or separated mothers evidenced significantly higher rates of internalizing problems, such as anxiety or depression."
Source: Denise B. Kandel, Emily Rosenbaum and Kevin Chen, "Impact of Maternal Drug Use and Life Experiences on Preadolescent Children Born to Teenage Mothers", Journal of Marriage and the Family56 (1994).

"Father hunger " often afflicts boys age one and two whose fathers are suddenly and permanently absent. Sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares, and night terrors frequently begin within one to three months after the father leaves home.
Source: Alfred A. Messer, "Boys Father Hunger: The Missing Father Syndrome", Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, January 1989.

"Children of never-married mothers are more than twice as likely to have been treated for an emotional or behavioral problem."
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interiew Survey, Hyattsille, MD, 1988

A 1988 Department of Health and Human Services study found that at every income level except the very highest (over $50,000 a year), children living with never-married mothers were more likely than their counterparts in two-parent families to have been expelled or suspended from school, to display emotional problems, and to engage in antisocial behavior.
Source: James Q. Wilson, "In Loco Parentis: Helping Children When Families Fail Them", The Brookings Review, Fall 1993.

In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed "greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households."
Source: N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, "Household Family Structure and Children's Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children", Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).

"Children from mother-only families have less of an ability to delay gratification and poorer impulse control (that is, control over anger and sexual gratification.) These children also have a weaker sense of conscience or sense of right and wrong."
Source: E.M. Hetherington and B. Martin, "Family Interaction " in H.C. Quay and J.S. Werry (eds.), Psychopathological Disorders of Childhood. (New York: John Wiley & Sons,

"Eighty percent of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from broken homes."
Source: J.B. Elshtain, "Family Matters... ", Christian Century, Jully 1993.

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