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A Glimpse at Divorce and Custody Statistics in the United States

Posted by Avia Rice Gauthier, MBA, JD | Sep 04, 2023 | 0 Comments

A Glimpse at Divorce and Custody Statistics in the United States

The intricate world of divorce and child custody in the United States is a complex labyrinth, continuously evolving and changing. As it stands today, there are approximately 13 million custodial parents in the nation, which represents around 4% of the total population. This statistic underscores the widespread prevalence of divorced families, with nearly half of American children witnessing the separation of their parents at some point in their lives.

Child Custody Arrangements

Custody arrangements are as diverse as the families they impact. However, over recent years, a notable trend towards shared physical custody has been observed.

In over half of child custody cases, both parents settle that the mother should have custody of the child. However, in only 18% of cases do the parents agree that the father should have custody. 11% of cases result in an agreement for both parents to share custody equally, while in 20% of cases, there is no agreement reached between the parents.

About 40% of US states aim to give equal custody time to both parents. However, joint physical custody is not always feasible or desirable, depending on each case's circumstances.

That said, the notion of 50/50 child custody arrangements is gaining traction. In these situations, both parents share joint custody and remain actively involved in all decisions regarding their children's welfare. This approach aims to ensure that children maintain strong relationships with both parents following a divorce.

It is important to note that custody awards can vary greatly across various U.S. states, particularly when viewed through the lens of parental gender.

Financial Support

Financial support is another critical aspect of custody cases. On average, custodial parents receive around $3,431 per year in child support. However, this doesn't always paint the full picture as only a little over two-thirds of custodial parents receive some or all of the child support owed to them. This discrepancy often puts added financial strain on the custodial parent and can significantly impact the child's quality of life.


In terms of demographics, a considerable percentage of custodial mothers are aged 40 years or older. This statistic might reflect multiple factors, including the age at which women have children and the age at which divorces typically occur. When it comes to employment, a large percentage of custodial fathers hold full-time jobs, reflecting the financial responsibilities that often fall on non-custodial parents.

Interestingly, a substantial proportion of custodial mothers have never been married. This highlights the increasing number of children born out of wedlock and the unique challenges faced by single parents in securing child support and navigating custody issues.

Have Questions? Talk to A Divorce and Child Custody Attorney

The statistics above provide a glimpse into the multifaceted and diverse nature of divorce and custody cases in the U.S. They underscore the pivotal role of family law attorneys in aiding individuals to navigate these complex situations. Armed with a deep understanding of these statistics and trends, family law attorneys can provide invaluable guidance and advocacy for their clients, ensuring the best possible outcomes for both parents and children involved in these cases. At The Gauthier Law Firm, we understand the unique challenges that come with divorce and child custody cases. We provide a legal platform that safeguards your rights and helps to protect the best interests of all involved. Contact us today to speak with an experienced family law attorney in Dallas/Ft. Worth. Call us at 214-377-0786.

About the Author

Avia Rice Gauthier, MBA, JD

DFW founding attorney Avia Rice Gauthier advises clients on a range of matters relating to family law (divorce, fathers' rights, custody & child support), estate planning (wills, trusts, probate & guardianship), and business law (contracts, business enti...


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