Most parents in separation, divorce or custody cases seek as much time as they can get with their child. Additionally, many parents find it difficult to decide between them what is in their child’s best interests regarding visitation, and must file petitions with the court to resolve custody and visitation. Often times, parents hire custody evaluators or request the appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem to assist in determining what custody and visitation schedule is appropriate. The task of deciding what is in the child’s best interests can become even more difficult where the child is an infant. Judges, attorneys, and medical professionals are aware that infants have different developmental and attachment needs than toddlers and young children.
A new national study may provide more insight into what visitation arrangements are best for an infant child. University of Virginia researchers found that infants who spend at least one night per week away from their primary caretaker have less secure attachments to their primary caretaker compared to babies who had fewer overnights or saw their non-custodial parent only during the day. Infants have an innate biological need to be bonded to caregivers, which is established by frequent face to face contact over a long period of time. The study found that forty-three percent (43%) of babies with weekly overnights were insecurely attached to their primary custodian, compared to sixteen percent (16%) with less frequent overnights.
So what can you take away from this study if you are the non-custodial parent of an infant? Here are five tips based on the study for visitation with your infant child:
- Understand that the “every other weekend” schedule may not be best for every child and every case, particularly where the child is an infant.
- Consider holding off on those overnight visitations until the child is no longer an infant. As an alternative, you might request a visitation schedule that allows for more frequent contact during the day– even daily or every other day visitation.
- Also consider a “step-up” visitation schedule that allows for more frequent overnight visitation as the child gets older.
- Do not be concerned that you will be considered less of a parent because you do not have overnight visitation. Above all you want to and should do what is in the best interests of your child.
- Understand that any custody and visitation schedule put in place when a child is an infant can be amended, modified, and expanded upon as the child gets older.
Whether you are to the custodial or non-custodial parent of an infant, an experienced attorney can help you negotiate a visitation arrangement that is in your child’s best interests. The custody lawyers at Livesay & Myers, P.C. have years of experience representing clients in custody and visitation cases in Northern Virginia. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.