Fifty years ago, single fathers were a rarity, although this is rapidly changing both in the United States and in Texas. Over 2.6 million fathers are now labeled as head of household and single father in this country. Child custody has often reverted to the mother during divorce disputes, but this trend seems to be changing as father’s take more of an interest in getting custody of their children.
Many men have been socialized to see parenthood as a package deal with marriage. According to research, men were not interested in or felt incapable of dealing with kids without wives to help. This has changed in recent years as men have asserted their rights as parents once a marriage ends. The assumption is no longer that child custody will immediately go to the mother.
It appears that, along with the rising numbers of single fathers, ideas regarding the role of fathers are changing. Many fathers are spending more time with their children and taking a more significant role in children’s lives. A recent survey found less interest is placed on father’s earning an income for families and more importance is placed on the father’s ability to instill values and provide emotional support to their children.
With roles evolving in the Texas family unit, it is important to remember that –regardless of who raises a child — the child’s needs should come first. Given that child custody is now going to fathers more than in decades past, fathers must fulfill roles they have not traditionally seen themselves in until now. For parents considering divorce, child custody is a delicate issue to discuss, and every effort should be made to do what is best for the children involved. In some instances, alternative dispute resolution techniques such as mediation or a collaborative divorce may offer viable options for dispute resolution.