Fewer mothers than ever are being given sole custody of their children as shared custody is on the rise.
A new study of Wisconsin Court Records published in Demography shows that from 1988 to 2008, the percentage of mothers who were awarded sole custody of their kids plummeted from 80% to 42%, but that was accompanied by a steep rise in joint custody arrangements. Over the same period of time, equal shared custody rose from 5% to 27% and unequal shared custody rose from 3% to 18%. Father-only custody stayed roughly the same the whole time, hovering around 10%.
The study doesn’t cover kids who are born into single-parent households, just households that have gone through a divorce, which is why it might seem a bit misleading– 45% of American babies are born to unmarried mothers, but those custody arrangements aren’t studied here.