Recently, a group of researchers at the University of Virginia conducted a study on how infants’ parental attachments are affected by custody arrangements. Specifically, the study aimed to find out how an infant’s relationship with his primary caregiver is affected when the infant spends at least one night per week away from the primary caregiver, whether that is the mother or father.
For couples who have divorced or ceased cohabitating, it is typically the case that the children born to the dissolved marriage or dissolved cohabiting relationship spend at least one night per week away from the primary caregiver. In fact, joint physical custody is becoming an even more common arrangement where a child can split his time evenly between mom and dad.
Ultimately, the study found that those infants who spent at least one night per week away from a primary caregiver mother had more insecure attachments to the mother compared to babies who had fewer overnights or saw their fathers only during the day. Although the primary caregiver can be a mother or father, the point of the study is that a joint custody relationship can be disruptive to an infant’s development.
The study would argue in favor of a progressive custody arrangement where the child has a primary caregiver and spends overnights primarily with the primary caregiver and overnights with the non-custodial parent would be minimized but day contact with the noncustodial parent should be encouraged and increased. As the child grows older the arrangement can develop into a joint arrangement where the child spends more overnights with the non-custodial parent. Utah’s minimum parent-time statute actually is progressive in nature and permits increased parent-time as the child grows older.
This new study may be relevant for a judge to consider in determining child custody arrangements for infants and very young children.
Give our Utah child custody lawyers a call at 801.618.1331 for a free consultation about custody issues you may be facing.