Not only is single parenthood increasing in the United States, but the number of single fathers is also increasing. A recent study revealed that, of families with at least one minor child that were headed by a single parent, 8 percent of them involved a single father. This societal change may have affected the way that Oregon now views child custody.
Historically, most Oregon courts tended to place children in the physical custody of their mothers. After a divorce, fathers were sometimes granted joint legal custody, which allowed them to have a voice in decisions that concerned their child but did not allow for much physical time to be spent with them. This was usually thought to be for the child's best interest.
Fathers now have stronger footing for physical custody in Oregon. In the 1990s, Oregon made an enormous shift in the way that custody was handled after a divorce. Instead of automatically awarding physical custody to a mother after a divorce, the state began to push for what is called joint physical custody. This generally means that divorced parents share roughly the same amount of time with their children.
It is noted that this shift in policy appears to also have increased the number of households that are headed by single fathers. This may be because more fathers might feel as though the law is on their side, and if they ask for more parenting time they will likely get it. When it comes to determining child custody after a divorce, Oregon fathers who are seeking joint or sole physical custody of their children would be well-advised to review the relatively new procedure that the courts tend to follow.
Source: Deseret News National, Why the number of single dads is on the rise, Caroline Kitchener, Feb. 24, 2014