Divorce and Fatherless Children

Thursday, April 8th, 2010 at 6:23 pm


Fatherless Children Due To Divorce

One of the saddest parts of working with families of divorce is the tragedy of fathers who have lost access to their children.  Failed access has severe consequences on both father and children.

In this article I will not address the many reasons for the lack of access, as that is an extremely complicated issue, fraught with political, social and legal influences.  Nor am I intending blame on either gender.

For now, however, I want to provide some very valid statistics on the subject for the purposes of opening our eyes. We all need to see what is happening, and begin to deal with it realistically and directly.

Each statistic has a number after it which is the reference number indicating the citation at the end of this article that directly applies to the particular finding.  Feel free to check it out.

©2010 Jim Hutt, Ph.D. and CounselorLink.com, all rights reserved

Children from fatherless homes account for:

63% of youth suicides 1

70% of juveniles in state-operated facilities come from fatherless homes 3

71% of pregnant teenagers 2

71% of all high school dropouts 6

75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers 7

80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger 5

85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders 4

85% of all youths sitting in prisons 8

90% of all homeless and runaway children

You might think a “loving mother” would want to protect her child and keep him from becoming one of the above statistics, but in most cases you would be wrong.

[Some] Mothers are exposing children to the above risks:

Angry mothers sabotage a father’s efforts to visit their children 9

Few children are satisfied with the amount of contact with their fathers 10

The mother was the greatest obstacle to having more frequent contact with the children 11

37.9% of fathers have no access/visitation rights 12

40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the non-custodial father’s visitation on at least one occasion, to punish the ex-spouse. 13

20% of mothers “see no value in the father`s continued contact with his

children….” 14

70% of fathers felt that they had too little time with their children 15

77% of non-custodial fathers are NOT able to “visit” their children, as ordered by the court, as a result of visitation interference by the mother. 16

89% of mothers don’t value their husband’s input when it comes to handling

problems with their kids 17

Non-compliance with court ordered visitation is 300% more common than noncompliance with court ordered child support and impacts the children of divorce even more. 18

1 US Dept. of Health & Human Services, Bureau of the Census

2 US Dept. of Health & Human Services

3 U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988

4 Center for Disease Control

5 Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, p. 403-26, 1978

6 National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools

7 Rainbows for all God`s Children)

8 Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992

9 Ahrons and Miller, Am. Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 63. p. 442, July


10 Visitation and the Noncustodial Father, Koch & Lowery, Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 50, Winter 1984

11 Increasing our understanding of fathers who have infrequent contact with their children, James Dudley, Family Relations, Vol. 4, p. 281, July 1991

12 p.6, col.II, para. 6, lines 4 & 5, Census Bureau P-60, #173, Sept 1991

13 p. 449, col. II, lines 3-6, (citing Fulton) Frequency of visitation by Divorced Fathers; Differences in Reports by Fathers and Mothers. Sanford Braver et al, Am. J. of Orthopsychiatry, 1991

14 Surviving the Breakup, Joan Kelly & Judith Wallerstein, p. 125

15 Visitation and the Noncustodial Father, Mary Ann Kock & Carol

owery, Journal of Divorce, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 54, Winter 1984

16 Visitational Interference – A National Study” by Ms. J Annette Vanini, M.S.W. and Edward Nichols, M.S.W. Originally published Sept. 1992

17 EDK Associates survey of 500 women for Redbook Magazine. Redbook,

November 1994, p. 36

18 Visitational Interference – A National Study” by Ms. J Annette Vanini, M.S.W. and Edward Nichols, M.S.W. Originally published Sept. 1992

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • BlinkList
  • email
  • Faves
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Netvouz
  • Propeller
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks


  1. Don’t deny the stats. We all know that “facts” can be selectively chosen to support the argument for any cause. I agree the court system favored women in child custody cases for many years,but the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Websites abound espousing fathers’ rights; and law firms in my area have jumped on the wagon, marketing their services on T.V. toward rights of fathers. More and more divorces cases are being viewed as black and white, 50/50 split which once the decree is signed leaves the mother with very little resources.

    For the most part, from what I’ve read so far, this site supports men/fathers. Would like to see a similar with statistics citing families with out mothers in the home.

    Comment by Sharon Ferguson — April 11, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  2. Thank you, Sharon for your comments. As I write this I am searching for the data you want to see, and as soon as I find a reliable source, I will post it.

    I’m not sure if your comment about my site being in support of fathers is an observation of what you believe is bias, or simply an observation. Either way, yes, I am in support of fathers, and I am also in support of mothers. In fact, the more the courts and communities continue to help men gain access to the children, the more that supports mothers as well. To read more about this particular issue, read warren Farrell’s book Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say.

    Comment by Dr. J. Hutt — April 11, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  3. What a wonderful article! Thank you for your insight! I too am a proud supporter of both mothers and fathers. However, unfortunately it is typically (though not always) the father who gets the short end of the stick with custody matters, and mothers do not seem to notice the effect this has on children. Despite the statistics and government programs to “engage fathers” with their children, the courts continue to be the number one contributor to father absence and all the social problems associated with it! The various womens organizations are the number one challenger to changes that would increase parenting time with fathers. Illinois is currently poised to make some radical changes regarding custody, and would love for you to share any like minded contacts you may have in Illinois that may help us with up coming legislation! Thanks!

    Comment by Don Howard — October 11, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

  4. Your article, although I formative, is lacking information. First of all, all of you statistics, like everyone who writes about this topic, are only from the side of trouble …whatever percent of this terrible outcome were raised without a father. Why is it there aren’t any statistics the other way around… whatever percent of children raised without a father will become/end up… etc? I ask because although these statistics are important to understand the problems we are facing in society, they paint the picture that ALL children raised without a father will be either a rapist or a drug addict or a criminal or commit suicide… you get my point. What about those of us who aren’t rapists, addicts, criminals, etc? First we overcome all of these things we are told we will become, then we deal with more issues into adulthood. No one talks about that. What about when those fatherless children grow up to be fatherless adults? There is little information and/or support online and I’d really like to see that change.

    I do thank you for at least bringing up the subject and trying to bring more attention to it.

    Comment by Jennifer — January 4, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  5. I definitely agree that divorce and the breakdown of the family has catastrophic effects on children, and by extension, our society. However, these stats are very one sided and do not present a clear picture. It takes two people to divorce, not just a mother. Many of the fathers from these fatherless homes are not interested in emotionally or financially supporting their children and leave all of that burden on the mother left behind. One person cannot do the job of parenting completely, male or female. What percentage of fathers in divorce do not pay child support? What percentage take no active interest in their child’s life because they remarry and have new families of their own? How many of these men were abusive or criminal to begin with? Would they have benefitted these children had they stuck around? How many of these men committed adultery, or refused marital counseling to save the relationship? The most important thing a man can do to be a good father is to be a good husband first. I have seen this in my nieces and nephew’s life – their father was abusive and a deadbeat before he left them high and dry. Now he is remarried, job hopping and paying no child support, provides no insurance, and has been harassing and defaming my sister. Just like during their marriage, she is now the one solely responsible for everything in that home and it is an enormous burden – one he makes worse through excessive litigation and parental alienation during his sporadic visitation. This swing toward father’s rights may benefit many fathers who deserve it, but in this case it has allowed an emotionally disturbed man to remain in his children’s and ex wife’s life as a nuisance and detriment.

    Comment by Deana — March 15, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  6. These stats are one sided, and are meant to simply show the negative effects on children when they are purposely kept from their very available fathers
    by mothers who are vindictive. There is plenty of other research that points out the terrible impact of both deadbeat fathers and deadbeat mothers on children.
    This article was not meant to address the latter. It was meant to shine a light on the former, which has generally been ignored in the research and in the courts.

    Comment by Dr. J. Hutt — March 15, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  7. i am a child of divorced parents and the wife of a remarried man. i have seen divorce from several angles and i am proud of this article. i agree that divorce should be looked at with equal fairness to genders and despite the growing awareness of the lack of equality for men in divorce and the efforts to balance the gender difference i find that most courts and the public still favor women. i personally was glad to see some statistics about the male side of the issue. i am currently writing a paper for college on divorce and have found it exceedingly difficult to find views that favor fathers in divorce and even less books on such perspective so Dr. Hutt i thank you.

    Comment by natasha — March 23, 2012 @ 12:38 am

  8. Thank you, Natasha, I appreciate the feedback! It’s a complicated issue, and there is no doubt that the family court system this country needs overhauling.

    Comment by Dr. J. Hutt — March 23, 2012 @ 10:25 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free