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56 percent of children in lone parent households won't see their dads on Father's Day

15 June, 2016

Child looking out of the window

Whether it’s with a handmade card, a brightly patterned tie or a game of kick-about in the garden, thousands of children will be celebrating Father’s Day on June 19th by spending some quality time with their dads.

However, recent ONS data has revealed that 25% of families across the UK are made up of lone-parent households, with 91% of those homes seeing mothers take on the role of the primary caregiver.   

So what does Father’s Day look like for mums, dads and kids in all these single-parent families? 

We conducted a survey* of our own and talked to 2,000 single parents, along with children who currently live in a lone-parent household and adults who grew up living primarily with their mothers.

With 56% of kids reporting that they won’t be seeing their dad on the 19th, it seems Father’s Day could have a very different meaning for the quarter of lone-parent families in the UK.

What do the dads say?

Beyond the 56% of children in lone-parent households who won’t see their dads on Father’s Day, one in four fathers who don’t live with their children say they don’t get to see them on Christmas or birthdays either.

The vast majority of children in single-parent households spend most of their time living with their mothers, and 10% of estranged fathers told us they have never met their children at all.

Of those dads that do spend time their kids, one quarter report they only see them once every few months, and in most cases this is restricted to less than one day. And 27% say that their visiting times are limited to weekends, while 13% are only allowed contact on special occasions.

Of these single fathers, 37% have regularly asked to see their kids more, but have been denied.

Fathers Day 1

What do the mums say?

While only 9% of children in lone-parent households live primarily with their fathers, our survey revealed that, in these cases, over half of them only see their mothers once a month.

Of these mothers, one third report having taken the father to court to fight for access to their children, and the majority (72%) say they have strict limitations regarding where they can take their kids, due to disputes with their ex-partner.

Three out of four mums who don’t live with their children full-time believe it has a negative impact on their kids, and 38% of parents agree that it would be better if they were on friendlier terms with their exes – suggesting couples’ disputes have an impact on parent-child relationships.

What do the kids say?

Most of the children who won’t be seeing their dads this Father’s Day put it down to distance and living too far away. However, one third say they don’t ever see their fathers at all, and 10% report they won’t be celebrating together as they believe their dads don’t want to see them. 

Of those who don’t see their fathers, the survey data revealed that 40% blame him and one fifth of children say they feel anger towards their dads. One quarter of children aged 6-16 believe their mother is to blame for the lack of contact and 20% of children confess that they think it’s their own fault.

While only one in ten children admit to being disappointed that they won’t be seeing their father on June 19th, 30% state that they wish they could spend more time together on a regular basis.

A quarter of children say they would prefer to live equally between both households, but only 9% of parents report an equal split of 50:50 access.

Fathers Day 2

The impact in later life

One in four children in the UK are currently growing up with a lone-parent arrangement – so how does this affect them later down the line?

More than 80% of surveyed adults who were raised without their fathers being regularly present say they won’t be seeing them on Father’s Day, and almost half don’t see or speak to their dads at all. Nearly half (46%) blame their fathers for the lack of contact, and one third say they still harbour anger towards them.

Women are more likely to blame their mothers for the lack of a solid father-daughter relationship and say they miss celebrating with their dad, with one in five declaring they wish they were spending time together this Father’s Day.

Nearly half of those surveyed admit that growing up without regularly seeing their dad had an obvious impact on them – one in ten men say an absent father resulted in them taking part in naughty behaviour whilst growing up, and 19% of women say it has caused them to fear commitment.


Even though June 19th is a day meant to be dedicated towards appreciating family, our survey suggests the majority of children won’t see their dads on Father’s Day.

If you have any questions or concerns about family law, from pre-nuptial agreements to child legal matters, our team of professional advisers are always here to listen. Contact us for more information.

 *Survey conducted by OnePoll, of 2,000 children and adults living across the UK