Custody and visitation issues often arise when a couple separates or gets divorced. Who should my child live with? How often can I visit my kid? There are common questions you may ask yourself. These questions may be particularly difficult to resolve when your child is a newborn or infant. Newborns and infants have unique developmental and attachment needs as compared to an older child or teenager. These needs must be taken into consideration when working out a custody and visitation schedule for your newborn or infant child.
Newborns and Infants
There’s no doubt that newborns and infants are at a special stage in life. They are first forming human attachments (typically first to mom, dad and/or their guardians) and learning basic human interactions. The formation of these bonds is critical to a child’s psychological and characterological development. For this reason, establishing a healthy parental bond with your baby is of the utmost importance and this begins with establishing a consistent custody and visitation routine that makes your child feel safe.
In fact, a recent study out of the University of Virginia found that infants who spend one night per week away from their primary caretaker have less-secure attachments to their primary caregiver compared to babies who had no overnights or saw their non-custodial parent only during the day. Based on this study, here are five recommendations to consider when working out a custody and visitation schedule for your newborn or infant child:
- Understand that a “once a week” or “every other weekend” visitation schedule may not be appropriate for your newborn or infant.
- Hold-off on planning overnight visitations until your child is no longer an infant. Instead, encourage frequent, day-time visitation(s) with your baby’s non-custodial parent.
- Try to work out a “step-up” custody schedule which permits more frequent overnight visitation as the child gets older.
- Do not be worried that you (if you’re the non-custodial parent) will be viewed as less of a parent because you do not have overnight visitation rights. Your most important consideration should always be what is in the best interests of your child.
- Know that any custody and visitation arrangement established when your child is a newborn or infant can be modified or expanded by a court as your child gets older.
Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent of a newborn or infant, an experienced attorney can help you negotiate a visitation arrangement that is in your child’s best interests. If you have a custody or visitation issue, the family law attorneys at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC are here for you. Call us today at (888) 530-4374 for a consultation.