How Divorce Applies
By: Neil Siskind


While divorce necessarily means that a parent is not living in the home (usually, the father), divorce is not in any way a “per se” determinant of whether a father is absent.

A father can be absent from a child’s life due to a variety of causes, including death, abandonment, imprisonment, physical illness, mental illness, emotionally checking-out or divorce. But, in the case of divorce, a father may be, and often is, especially in this day and age, physically present and emotionally available. Occasionally, I hear people use the term “single mother” to describe a mother who is raising a child in a home without a father present due to divorce. This is not what a “single mother” is, and the term should be used properly in order to give due respect to truly single mothers- mothers who are entirely, or who are primarily responsible for supporting a family, financially and emotionally. Parents divorced from one another are not necessarily financially or emotionally divorced from their children.

The Fatherhood Assignment aims to encourage help for youths who have no paternal direction. A divorce does not “per se” leave a child without paternal direction. Some fathers actually become more laser-focused on their children post-divorce as a way to compensate- and, in some cases, over-compensate for the family divide. Do not use divorce as an indicator as to whether a youth is in need of a paternal force in his or her life, and, likewise, do not use a lack of any divorce to assume a paternal force is intact. A home with a marriage legally intact may contain a child in need of a father-figure, while a divorced father may be providing his children all of the love and guidance possible.