The Number of Children in Custody Allocations

The exact number of children involved in custody allocations is not known. Reporting is not uniform, consistent, or comprehensive within and across states. Based on figures from the National Center for Health Statistics, at a divorce rate of 4.1 per 1,000 population in the United States in 1999 (amounting to 1.1 million divorces) and an average rate of 0.9 children per divorce decree, approximately one million children were affected by divorce. It should be noted, however, that divorce data do not provide complete estimates of the total number of children involved in custody allocations, because one out of three children in the United States is born to unmarried parents. More informative estimates stem from the reports of household living arrangements compiled by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The majority (85%) of children who lived with a single parent in 1998 lived with their mother. About 40 percent of these children lived with mothers who had never been married.

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