ARIZONA CUSTODY LAW UPDATE – IS ASSUMPTION OF EQUAL PARENTING TIME AND DECISION-MAKING AUTHORITY UNFAIR TO CHILDREN?

  In 2012 I wrote an article on our law firm’s blog entitled “Say Goodbye to Custody,”, in which I discussed the brand new, and highly debated, revisions to the Arizona Family Law statutes. These laws, which guide the Court in making custody decisions involving children, have given rise to an assumption of equal parenting time and decision-making authority that has become the starting point for the Court’s analysis in every contested custody case. In my opinion, this approach hurts children more than helps them, and is unfair to both mothers and fathers. In this article, I’ll explain why.

Among the changes to the law were the following:

  • The word “custody” was replaced with the terms “Legal Decision-Making” and “Parenting Time.” (A.R.S. §25-403)
  • A provision was added providing that the court shall adopt a parenting plan “that provides for both parents to share legal decision-making regarding their child and that maximizes their respective parenting time.” (A.R.S. §25-403.02)
  • And in determining custody, whereas the Court was previously required to consider which parent had historically been the primary caregiver for the children, that was removed from the list of factors in the statute and replaced with a requirement for judges to consider: “The past, present, and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.” (A.R.S. §25-403 [1], Emphasis added.)

At the time, there was much discussion as to what these changes would mean. Some experts believed that the revisions were mostly “semantics” and that not much would change. Others argued that the revisions would lead to a “sea-change” in how the courts determine custody (now called Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time) in the future.

Now, more than five years later, the answer is in. Has there been a big change? Yes. The change has been enormous. It is a seismic shift in the way judges determine parenting time and legal decision-making authority. And, in my opinion, the change is not necessarily a healthy one.

The law still provides that the “best interests of the child” standard should be applied when making “custody” and parenting time decisions, but today, many judges interpret the statutory changes as requiring them to start with the assumption that both parents should be given equal decision-making authority, and equal parenting time. And, in many cases, that trumps the best interests of the child. It wasn’t that way before the law was changed. But, increasingly, it is the reality today.

Why do I think this is not a healthy approach? Well, I’ll get to that in a minute; but before I do, I need to explain a few things: The latest studies show that children do better, and are happier, when both of their parents are loving, active and involved. When a divorce or breakup occurs, the courts should work to make sure that loving, active and involved parents share in decision-making, and that the children get to spend plenty of time with both of them. In fact, Arizona law provides that:

It … is the declared public policy of this state and the general purpose of this title that absent evidence to the contrary, it is in a child’s best interest: (1) To have substantial, frequent, meaningful and continuing parenting time with both parents; (and) (2) To have both parents participate in decision-making about the child.” (A.R.S. §25-103) 

So that’s the policy. And it’s true that equal decision-making and equal parenting time are good for children when both parents are loving and capable caregivers. But here’s the catch: Not all parents are equal. Some parents have never been meaningfully involved in their children’s lives, and never will be. And I’m not necessarily talking about “bad” parents. There are parents who love their children but are just too busy, or maybe not interested enough, to be involved. If a parent isn’t available to spend time with the children; and rarely or never attends doctors’ appointments, or school functions, or extracurricular activities; and if that parent doesn’t know the children’s friends; and isn’t tapped into their children’s likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses; their abilities, or disabilities; their medical conditions; etc., then how can that parent be trusted with making critically important decisions for those children? – But all too often today, these types of parents are awarded 50/50 parenting time and equal decision-making authority. And why? – Because of an unwritten assumption that a parent is entitled to it under Arizona law.

This is where I think the new law, as currently interpreted, goes off the rails and can hurt children. It places “Parents’ Rights” ahead of “Children’s Rights.” It assumes that in every case the Court should start its analysis with the proposition that both parents will receive equal parenting time and decision-making authority. And, by doing this, the best interest of the child has been made secondary to the best interest of the adults. Proponents of the law will not agree with my opinion. They will point out that there is no legal presumption mandating equal decision-making and parenting time — but that argument rings hollow. Because while it is true that overcoming a legal presumption requires a higher level of proof than a mere assumption, there is often little difference between the two in actual practice.  Try explaining the difference to a mother or father who has always been the sole caregiver, but whose children will now spend half their lives with a parent who never changed a diaper, never got up with a baby at night, never took care of a sick toddler, or attended a parent-teacher conference, or a school play, or a Little League game.

Those favoring an assumption of equal parenting-time and decision-making will argue that the Court is still required to consider all relevant factors, and that while “equal” may be the starting point in the analysis, a judge can give a parent less time, or no decision-making authority at all, where it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. And that is true. But I would remind them that Arizona law was also changed in a way that makes such an outcome less likely.

Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 403 contains a list of factors that the Court shall consider in determining Legal Decision-Making and Parenting-Time. Before the law was changed, that statute contained a factor which required a judge to consider whether a parent had historically provided primary care for the child. But that factor was removed from the statute and replaced with this: “The court shall consider all factors that are relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being, including . . . (1) The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.”

So now, in making the all-important decision on where the child lives and who will make major decisions, the judge is required to consider a parent’s unproven “potential.” Instead of giving primary consideration to which parent actually took care of the child throughout his or her life, the Court must give equal weight to the other parent’s “potential.”

But here’s the problem — How many people do you know who never lived up to their potential? How many athletes were top draft picks but never became stars? How many employees were promoted but never became effective managers or supervisors? — How many moms or dads were excited when their baby was born but never became active and involved parents? In my opinion, it is a huge mistake to emphasize “potential” over actual experience, or even to give it equal weight. Because past history is the best predictor of future behavior. Thus, by putting too much stock in “potential,” the danger of a bad outcome is evident. And in the end, when a father or mother is awarded equal parenting-time and decision-making authority and never lives up to his or her potential, it is the children who suffer.

Of course, there will be parents who were stay-at-home moms or dads during the marriage, but will have to work full time after the divorce – and the fact that both parents will now be working should be taken into consideration by the Court in formulating a parenting plan. In that sense, the other parent’s potential to become a competent caregiver would come into play. However, it should be just one of many factors the judge considers in determining what is in the best interest of the child.

Fathers’ rights advocates maintain that an assumption of equal parenting time and decision-making is necessary because mothers were previously favored in custody disputes. Hey, I’m a father, and nothing is more important to me than my children. And, yes, it is true that there was a time when mothers typically received custody of children. But that was during an era when women were faced with societal and social barriers that made it difficult for them to obtain a college education or executive-level employment, or even a decent-paying job, and which practically forced them to be “housewives” and stay-at-home caregivers of children. Today, many of those barriers have been knocked-down, and glass-ceilings are being shattered. Recent studies show that over sixty-percent of all college students today are women. This means that in the future more mothers will be the family breadwinners; and more fathers will become stay-at-home parents. Therefore, for a judge to make a blanket assumption of equal parenting time and decision-making authority is unfair to both Mothers and Fathers.

In Arizona and other states across the country, the growing trend in custody cases is to award the parents equal decision-making authority and parenting time. That’s not a bad thing, so long as the parents are equally involved in raising their children. The experts agree that it is best for children to have both parents actively involved in their lives, and that effective co-parenting helps to ensure that children will grow up to be healthy and productive adults. But to make custody decisions based on a simple assumption that both parents are equally capable – when they may not be – is a colossal mistake. One that can harm the children in the long-run.

The care of children is too important to make broad assumptions, let alone instituting legal presumptions, regarding decision-making and parenting time. In the real world, parents are not always equal caregivers. Sometimes the mother is the more responsible parent; sometimes it is the father who is the nurturer and is in a better position to provide for the children’s needs; and in many cases both parents are loving, capable caregivers who are willing to co-parent their children (that is, obviously, the best scenario).

Rather than making assumptions, the Court should start with a blank slate when crafting a parenting plan. The judge should carefully examine the capabilities of each parent, the factors contained in Arizona’s custody statute (A.R.S. §25-403), and all other relevant factors. The judge should take a close look at who has been the child’s primary caregiver, and also consider the potential future relationship between the parents and the child. But the needs of the child should always come first. By taking this approach the Court can ensure that the best interest of the child is protected.

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., both Gary Frank and attorney Hanna Juncaj are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator, which includes having acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court; and serving on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Hanna Juncaj is a highly-skilled attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. In addition, Hanna is an active member of her County Bar Association. We handle Family Law cases in the areas of divorce, custody (now called “Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), relocation (move-away), division of property, spousal maintenance and child support, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all other matters pertaining to families and children. To learn more about our firm, check us out on Facebook, Linkedin-Gary Frank, and Linkedin-Hanna Juncaj. If you are in need of a consultation, please do not hesitate to call our office at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.   We look forward to hearing from you.

 

“COUNCIL ON SHARED PARENTING” CONCLUDES THAT SHARED PARENTING IS GOOD . . . REALLY?


What’s wrong with this picture? . . . 

The First International Conference on Shared Parenting” has published a “Research Consensus Statement” following a July, 2014 conference organized by the International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP).  In their report, the experts concluded that shared parenting is in the best interest of the majority of children whose parents divorce.  Psychology Today refers to the study as “groundbreaking” . . .
Really?  Should be we surprised that the “International Conference on Shared Parenting” would conclude that shared parenting is a good thing?  Isn’t that a little like the “Conference for Legalization of Marijuana” concluding that marijuana should be legalized?  It doesn’t mean they’re wrong.  It’s just that their conclusions are . . . well . . . not all that astounding.  I mean, hey, is the Council on Shared Parenting going to say that shared parenting is harmful? 
I’m all for shared parenting.  But I also believe that in determining an appropriate parenting plan, the Court should make its decision on a case-by-case basis, without the use of blanket presumptions.  Where children are involved, a one-size-fits-all approach is not always wise.
This “groundbreaking” conference was organized by the “International Council on Shared Parenting” – that, in itself, could lead one to believe that the findings may have been tainted by bias. 

. . . Just saying . . . 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201407/research-consensus-statement-co-parenting-after-divorce


 The Law Office of Gary J. Frank has been a fixture in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years.  Gary Frank is a Family Law litigator, a mediator, and a former Judge Pro Tem.  Our firm handles a wide array of cases, such as divorce, domestic partnerships, custody, relocation, paternity, child and spousal support, division of property and businesses, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all matters relating to families and children.  If you are in need of a consultation, please do not hesitate.  Contact us today.  You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610, or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We’d be honored to help 

SINGLE MOTHERS ARE HEROES

Over the past few years a number of studies have come out which purport to show that children raised in single-parent households are more likely to live in poverty, lag behind in academics, and have more emotional problems than children raised in two-parent households.  And who is to blame for all of this?  Well, according to the interpretation of many so-called “experts” . . . it is Single Mothers.
A Google search turns up headlines such as:  “Why Do Single Parent Families Put Children At Risk?”; “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?”; “Single Parent Families Threaten America’s Fiscal Future”; . . . and “Single Motherhood: Worse for Children.” 
Blaming single mothers is wrong.  In fact, it’s stupid.  Historically, it has been single moms who have stepped up to the plate and supported the children when fathers abandoned the family or were only peripherally involved.  Single mothers are the ones who have shouldered the responsibility of raising the children — disciplining them, getting them off to school, helping with homework, soothing them when they are sick, and taking care of all their needs.  Single mothers are the ones who have gone to work to put clothes on their children’s backs, and food on the table, when fathers are not providing support.  In many cases, mothers are the only person in their children’s lives whom they can rely on.  Why blame single mothers?
It is too easy to glance at a set of statistics and immediately look for someone to blame.  But that is exactly what the “experts” are doing.   Assessing blame in this manner requires ignoring a wide array of societal factors that contribute to childhood outcomes.  For instance, one could argue that it is poverty, and not single parenthood, that places a child “at risk.”  Single parents are more likely to be below the poverty level, for obvious reasons.  If a mother is not receiving child support from the father – or not enough child support – then it is no surprise that she and her children will struggle financially.  She will have to find a job, or maybe two, to make ends meet.  If the children are being raised in an area of town where crime is rampant, and attending a faltering school, then the odds are higher that those children will be considered “at risk.”  Is that the mother’s “fault”?  Why isn’t it the fault of the parent who has chosen to take no responsibility at all for the children?  

The fact is that in some instances the children are better off being raised by a single parent rather than living in a home with parents who are angry and hostile toward each other; or being negatively influenced by a parent who is disconnected and irresponsible, or who suffers from substance abuse or untreated mental illness — or, worse yet, who is abusive.  Those who claim that children are better off living with both a father and mother conveniently ignore the fact that many of those two-parent households are a toxic environment.  

And what about mothers who are single by choice?  If an unmarried person wants a child and is loving, capable, and able to provide a safe, nurturing home, then why should she not have a child, or adopt one?  I know an unmarried doctor who adopted and raised three happy children.  She is a knowledgeable, attentive, and devoted parent; and her children are certain to have a bright future.  I can’t imagine a married couple providing a better environment for a child.    

In truth, the vast majority of single mothers do an outstanding job of providing for their children, while balancing work and parenting.  They often shoulder the responsibility alone and still manage to provide a loving and nurturing home.  Some of the most successful people in the world today have been raised by single mothers – including the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

To blame single-motherhood for the ills of society is an injustice.  Single moms should receive a medal.  They are heroes.



The Law Office of Gary J. Frank has been a fixture in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years.  Gary Frank is a Family Law litigator, a mediator, and a former Judge Pro Tem.  Our firm handles a wide array of cases, such as divorce, custody (Legal Decision-Making and Parenting-Time), relocation, paternity, child and spousal support, division of property and businesses, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all matters relating to families and children.  If you are in need of a consultation contact us today.  You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610, or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We’d be honored to help you.

IS ARIZONA’S NEW “CUSTODY” LAW HURTING CHILDREN?

During the past year, Arizona Family Law statues were revised.  Some legal experts believe the changes reflect a trend in Arizona, and in many other states, to use 50/50 decision-making and parenting-time as a starting point in assessing the parenting arrangement. 

In Arizona, the new revisions removed the word “custody” from the Family Law statutes entirely, and replaced it with the terms “legal decision-making” and “parenting-time.”  Other significant revisions to the law were made, as well.  For instance, both the old statute and the new one provide a list of factors that the court shall consider in deciding legal decision-making and parenting time.  For many years, the judge would consider “whether one parent, both parents, or neither parent has provided primary care of the child.”  But that factor was removed when the statute was revised.  Now the judge is required to consider “the past, present, and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.”  
The reason this is important is that while, in the past, the judge would consider which parent had actually provided “primary care” of the children, the new statute places an emphasis on other parent’s potentialfor being able to care for them.  There is some logic to the change.  When two people are married they may have the luxury of being able to have one parent stay at home, or work part-time, and provide primary care of the children; however, after the divorce both parents will probably have to work full-time, and each will become a “single parent.”  If both parents are working full-time, then an equal parenting arrangement might make sense.  But, in my opinion, there is a danger in making a blanket assumption that such an arrangement would be best for the children.  Examining a parent’s capability is fine; but relying on a parent’s “potential” can be speculative, since it is based on supposition and not fact.  The reason one parent was primarily in charge of parenting during the marriage may have had less to do with work schedules than the fact that the “other parent” was not as interested in, or not as capable of, being an active and engaged parent.  To give that parent equal decision-making, and equal parenting-time, would be contrary to the children’s best interests.
The big question is whether Arizona’s statutory revision will have the effect of making 50/50 the “default” parenting arrangement, or the “starting point” in the Court’s analysis.  In my own experience – and according to attorneys with whom I have spoken — that is exactly what is happening in many cases.  Today a judge might start with a 50/50 arrangement in mind, and move from there to more parenting- time and/or decision-making for mother, or for father, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. 
The change brings Arizona in line with many other states, but I believe this shift in philosophy is a mistake.  While “best interests of the child” is still the deciding factor in a judge’s decision, I am concerned that courts are increasingly moving in the direction of a “template” decision that applies across the board and will be ordered unless a litigant can prove that using the template would be harmful to the children.  Rather than using a “template,” or a “starting point,” or “default” option, the Court should judge each case on its own merits, without any preconceived notions.  To do otherwise could lead to a decision that does not truly serve the “best interests” of the children.  It might even lead to a decision that hurts them.
We must keep in mind that “Children’s Rights” should always trump “Parents’ Rights.” 

Gary J. Frank is an attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience in dealing in divorcecustody, and parenting issues. For many years he acted as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, which gave him an insight into the inner workings of the courts that many attorneys lack.  His office is located in the Biltmore area of central Phoenix, with satellite offices in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona.  He can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org.  You can also reach him through his website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, contact us today. 

TODAY’S PARENTS CAN DO IT ALL

It should come as no surprise that fathers can be loving, caring, and nurturing parents – just as mothers were always expected to be.

It should come as no surprise that mothers can excel in the business world and be family breadwinners – just as fathers were always expected to be.

In today’s society, women can be not only nurturers, but also breadwinners.  Men can be not only breadwinners, but also nurturers.  And our children are all the better for it.

The Law Office of Gary J. Frank has been a fixture in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years.  Gary Frank is a Family Law litigator, a mediator, and a former Judge Pro Tem.  Our firm handles a wide array of cases, such as divorce, custody, relocation, paternity, child and spousal support, division of property and businesses, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all matters relating to families and children.  If you are in need of a consultation, please do not hesitate.  Contact us today.  You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610, or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We’d be honored to help you.

THE BABY VERONICA CASE IS NOW BEFORE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

The case involving the adoption of Veronica is before the U.S. Supreme Court.  It is a heartbreaking case that pits state adoption law against the Indian Child Welfare Act.  There are legitimate legal interests on all sides.  Until the 1960’s Native American children were often stolen from their mothers in hospitals shortly after birth, and given up to Anglo families for adoption. Sometimes the “kidnappers” were state agencies.  The Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted for the purpose of correcting this injustice.  The Act takes precedence over state adoption laws and gives tribal courts the right to determine adoption placement of children of Native American heritage.

But in the case of baby Veronica, did the sharp focus on legal issues, jurisdiction, public policy, and politics cause the courts to lose sight of the most important thing of all – the best interests of a child?

This case starts out like many others: A woman becomes pregnant.  The father isn’t interested in taking responsibility for parenthood.  The mother decides to place the baby for adoption. The father signs away his parental rights.  The baby is born and is placed with adoptive parents.  But four months after the baby’s birth, this case takes an abrupt turn.  The father changes his mind, claiming that he thought he was signing away his rights to the biological mother, and that he never knew the baby would be placed for adoption (note: he had abandoned the mother during her pregnancy and made no effort to see the child, or pay support, after the child was born). 

Because the father was a member of the Cherokee Nation, he invoked his rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act and asserted that he was entitled to full custody.  (The mother was not Native-American.)  In December, 2011 the South Carolina Courts ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act trumped state law.  Baby Veronica, now two years old, was ripped out of the arms of the adoptive parents who had loved her and bonded with her; and she was handed, screaming hysterically, to a man she had never met.

The adoptive parents appealed, and today the case is before the U.S. Supreme Court.  This is a matter in which the interests on both sides are legitimate and compelling.  You can read an excellent examination of the competing views in the NPR article at the following link:  http://www.npr.org/2013/04/16/177327391/adoption-case-brings-rare-family-law-dispute-to-high-court?utm_source=NPR&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130416=.

Hopefully, the nine Supreme Court justices will be able to cut through the thick fog of politics and legal issues, and come up with the best solution for this one young, innocent, child – Baby Veronica.




Gary Frank is an Arizona Family Law Attorney and a children’s advocate.  For many years, he represented children in child abuse and neglect cases in Superior Court.  He has been appointed to serve on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force.  He won a Maricopa County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer of the Month Award for representing a child in a Family Court Custody Action and successfully petitioning to have the case transferred to Juvenile Court, where the child could be protected from her abusive parents.  Our law firm focuses on Family Law Matters, including Divorce, contested Custody matters, Parenting Time disputes, Relocation/move-away cases, Enforcement and Modification actions, Child and Spousal Support, Paternity/Maternity, Grandparent and Non-Parent rights, Mediation, and all other matters involving families and children.  If you are in need of a consultation to learn about your rights, please call us today at 602-383-3610; or contact us by email at gary.frank@azbar.org.  To learn more about our firm, check out our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We’d be happy to help you.

NEW STATISTICS ON MOTHERHOOD

The 2012 U.S. Census Bureau statistics on motherhood in America paint a complex picture.  The number of single mothers living with children under 18 has almost tripled in the past 30-40 years.  Over five million mothers had child support orders that were unpaid as of 2009.  More than 55% of mothers who recently gave birth were working to support themselves and their children, as of 2010.  More children are in day care than ever before, and that number is growing.  There were more than 800,000 day care centers in the United States by 2009.

Our children are our future.  But we must keep in mind that the health and welfare of children and mothers are inextricably linked.  That is why mothers deserve our support.

Here are some interesting statistics on motherhood in America . . .


According to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau Statistics
Single Moms
10.0 million
The number of single mothers living with children younger than 18 in 2011, up from 3.4 million in 1970.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam.html> FM-2
5.2 million
Number of custodial mothers who were due child support in 2009.
Source: Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009 <http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p60-240.pdf html>
38%
In 2010, of the 3.7 million women 15 to 44 years old who had a birth in the last year, 1.4 million (39 percent) were to women who were not married, who were separated, or married but with an absent spouse.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010html> Table 4
In 2008, this number was 1.5 million. Of those mothers, 425,000 (28 percent) were living with a cohabiting partner.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p20-563.pdf>
Recent Births
4.13 million
Number of births registered in the United States in 2009. Of this number, 409,840 were to teens 15 to 19 and 7,934 to women age 45 to 54.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/births.htm>
<http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db58.htm#U.S.>
25.1
Average age of women in 2008 when they gave birth for the first time, up from 25.0 years in 2006 and 2007. The mean age from 2007 to 2008 reflects, in part, the relatively large decline in births to women under age 25 compared with the small decline for women in the 25-39 age bracket.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_01.pdf>
55%
Percentage of mothers with a birth in 2010 who were in the labor force. This decreased from from 57 percent in 2008.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010, table 6 <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/fertility.html>
27.3%
The percentage of mothers who had given birth in the past 12 months who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Among states, New Hampshire had the highest percentage of recent mothers in this category with 48 percent. Mothers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland also had percentages higher than the national average.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p20-563.pdf>
83%
Percentage of women age 15 to 44 with at least a high school diploma who gave birth in the last year. For women age 30 to 44, the figure was 90 percent.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010, Table 8 <http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p20-563.pdf>
How Many Mothers
85.4 million
Estimated number of mothers in the United States in 2009.
Source: Survey of Income and Program Participation, unpublished tabulations
4.0 million
Number of women between the ages of 15 and 50 who gave birth in the past 12 months.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2008.html> Table 2
53%
Percentage of 15- to 50-year-old women who were mothers in 2010.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010.html> Table 1
81%
Percentage of women who had become mothers by age 40 to 44 as of 2010. In 1976, 90 percent of women in that age group had given birth.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010.html> Table 1
Employed Moms (and Moms-to-Be)
55%
The proportion of mothers in 2010 with a recent birth who were in the labor force decreased slightly from 57 percent in 2008.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010.html> Table 6
In 2008, among states with higher than average levels of new mothers who were unemployed, the highest proportions were in Alabama and Delaware (10 percent) followed by Michigan, Alaska, Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Carolina (9 percent), along with several other states in the southeast United States.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2008.html> Table 11
805,137
Number of child care centers across the country in 2009. These included 75,396 centers employing 869,468 workers and another 729,741 self-employed people or other businesses without paid employees. Many mothers turn to these centers to help juggle motherhood and careers.
Source: County Business Patterns: 2009 <http://www.census.gov/econ/cbp/> and
Nonemployer Statistics: 2009 <http://www.census.gov/econ/nonemployer/>
Stay-at-Home Moms
5 million
Number of stay-at-home moms in 2011 — same as in 2010 and down from 5.1 million in 2009 and 5.3 million in 2008 (the estimates for 2010 and 2009 are not statistically different). In 2011, 23 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mother, up from 21 percent in 2000. In 2007, before the recession, stay-at-home mothers were found in 24 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements Table SHP-1 <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam.html>
Compared with other moms, stay-at-home moms in 2007 were more likely:
·         Younger (44 percent were under age 35 compared with 38 percent of mothers in the labor force).
·         Hispanic (27 percent compared with 16 percent of mothers in the labor force).
·         Foreign-born (34 percent compared with 19 percent of mothers in the labor force).
·         Living with a child under age 5 (57 percent compared with 43 percent of mothers in the labor force).
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2007 <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam/p20-561.pdf>
 

Gary J. Frank is an Arizona Family Law attorney and former Judge Pro Tem with over thirty years of experience.  He is a strong and compassionate advocate for his clients.  Our law firm handles all matters involving Family Law, including divorce, custody, parenting issues, child support, enforcement actions, modification actions, paternity, and grandparent and non-parent rights, as well as division of property and businesses.  If you are in need of a consultation to learn about your legal rights, please do not hesitate.  Contact us today. You can reach us by telephone (602-383-3610) or by email (gary.frank@azbar.org), or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.