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New study shows joint custody affects infant/caregiver attachment

Child custody is a difficult determination in any divorce, but when it involves an infant, many judges are hesitant about separating a mother and a baby. A new study from the University of Virginia may lend some credibility this thinking. The study reports that infants who were separated from their mothers at least one night a week formed attachments that were less secure than infants who only spent the day or fewer nights with their fathers.

The study reviewed data from another study, the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. This data covered 5,000 babies born in metropolitan areas in the U.S. between 1998 and 2000. The parents were interviewed when the children were born, and then when they reached 1 and 3 years old.

According to the author of the university study, the first year of a baby's life is the most important in terms of bonding with their parents; however, it also lays the groundwork for how a child will form relationships into adulthood. Because more parents are divorced or separated today, and there is a higher number of children born to couples who are not married, the kids are now growing up in more than one home. The legal system is often the deciding factor on where and with whom the child will grow up.

The study author says the research shows the child would be best served by staying with the same parent - whether it is mom or dad - each night. This, she says, would allow the child to build a secure attachment to their constant, consistent caregiver.

There are several other studies that have been completed on the effects of divorce and how it might affect a child's development. One recently released study by the University College London found children raised by divorced parents could have a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease because of having higher levels a certain blood protein. Another study found that children whose parents divorced can exhibit "compulsive buying behavior in adulthood."

Divorce is difficult, even when children are not in the picture. However, when trying to determine child custody and visitation, it's important to have an experienced Colorado family law attorney on your side who will always put the best interests of you and your children first.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "Divorce Study Shows Infants' Attachment to Caregivers Affected By Joint Custody" Bridget Mallon, Jul. 29, 2013

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