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The family landscape today is much different than it was several decades ago. The Detroit Free Press recently profiled an interesting story about the makeup of today’s 21st century families and just how different the family structure is. The story also discussed how child custody arrangements are much different when a divorce occurs.

Stay-at-home dads

Within the past several decades, mothers tended to be the sole caretakers of the children in a marriage. The fathers typically worked outside the home and provided the family income. However, a 2012 Pew Research Center study revealed just how much this has changed in recent years. In 1989, there were roughly a million stay-at-home dads in the U.S. In 2012, that number jumped to 2 million. And today, the number of stay-at-home fathers is even higher.

Duel earners

In the past, the economic conditions allowed many families to survive on just one income. But today, the U.S. economy is much different. Many couples today simply need to have both parties in the workforce in order to make ends meet. In some instances, the mother is often the primary bread winner in the family.

Child custody trends through the years

Both of these have resulted in not only changes to the family structure, but changes to child support arrangements as well. The Detroit Free Press released some interesting statistics surrounding the changes in custody through the years.

In one instance, they pointed to a study recently published in Demography, a scholarly journal founded in 1964. Researchers from the study examined almost 10,000 divorce records from the state of Wisconsin from 1986-2008. The results were fascinating. During the 10 year period:

  • Roughly 80 percent of mothers received sole child custody of their children in a divorce in 1986; that number dropped to 42 percent as the years progressed.
  • Cases of equal-shared child-custody during that same period also changed. In 1986, 5 percent of divorces resulted in shared custody arrangements; that number gradually increased to 27 percent by 2008.
  • The data also revealed that the number of fathers awarded sole custody rose by 9 percent during the 10 year time period.
  • Split custody among multiple-child families also increased by 4 percent during this time.

It remains to be seen just how these statistics will adjust in the years to come. In a decade, they will likely be much different given the continuous evolution of cultural transformations throughout the U.S.