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Increase in single dads affects Texas fathers' rights

Decades ago, it was assumed that when a couple with children divorced, the mother would automatically be granted full custody. Fathers would be required to pay child support, of course, but except under unusual circumstances, they rarely saw their children outside of rotating weekends and holidays.

Things are very different today, with more single dads than ever. Although the reasons vary -- they may be divorced, widowed or never married their children's mother -- Texas and the rest of the nation has seen a substantial increase in the number of unmarried fathers. According to the latest census data, of the 1.8 million single fathers in the U.S., 46 percent are divorced, 30 percent have never been married, 19 percent are separated and 6 percent are widowed. Four out of every 100 households have single dads with children under the age of 18. That's one more household out of every 100 than was reported in the previous census.

This increase in single fathers has led to changes in attitudes about their ability to raise children. No longer do we assume that men aren't well-equipped for the job. The increase has also affected how child custody and child support is handled. More dads are being given primary custody, and receiving child support instead of paying it.

While the number of single moms is still higher than their male counterparts, single fathers are showing us that they're just as capable of raising children under primary custody agreements. The upward trend in single-father parenting could lead to even more rights for fathers, who are equally entitled to be involved in their children's lives.

Source: Chron.com, "Shifts in Parenting Trends Impact Custodial Rights and Child Support for Single Dads in Texas," Susan Saurage-Altenloh, Jan. 24, 2012

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