Attachment Parenting Issues With Father Seeking Custody in Divorce
Attachment Parenting and a Father’s Custody Rights in a Divorce
In today’s society, families are increasingly growing apart. To combat the issue that an estimated 40% of kids end up insecurely attached, many mothers use an attachment parenting style. When couples divorce or separate, fathers of those young children often wonder if they will be able to see them because of the attachment parenting issue.
What Is Attachment Parenting?
A pediatrician named William Sears coined the term for this parenting style. It centers around the idea of emotional bonding with an infant, a toddler, or a young child. If the care-providing parent is emotionally available to the child, the theory is that the child’s socio-emotional development will be better. In turn, this is expected to contribute to better overall well-being for the child as he or she ages. On the contrary, the theory of a parent who is not emotionally available for a child is that the kid will grow up to be insecure and may develop a variety of mental health problems. Children who do not attach at all are predicted to show physically cruel and abusive behaviors, and they may later display criminal behaviors, such as vandalism or theft.
Many fathers who seek custody of their young children in a divorce may hear the spouse who is the main caregiver talking about attachment parenting. However, they may not always know all of what this includes. These are some examples of attachment parenting techniques:
- Breastfeeding to boost psychological and physical health.
- With babies, learning their crying sounds and what they try to communicate with each one.
- With toddlers, learning what they are trying to communicate with tantrums or other behaviors.
- Birth bonding to establish a new bond in the first few hours following a baby’s birth.
- With toddlers, practicing positive discipline to encourage good behaviors.
- Co-sleeping with the baby or child to provide nighttime soothing.
- Wearing a baby in a sling for close body contact.
- Setting clear boundaries by saying “yes” or “no” to a young child to promote healthy family life.
- Ensuring that children under 30 months of age are not left with non-parent caregivers for more than about 20 hours per week.
Some theorists have developed additional ideas. However, these are the most common. People may also develop some of their own practices that stem from these basic concepts.
Attachment Parenting Concerns for Fathers
Many fathers are responsible and caring enough to want what is best for their children. For that reason, these are some of their top concerns:
- Wondering if separating the child from the mother for longer periods will cause problems for the child.
- Knowing that there are enough problems with the other spouse that cohabitation is out of the question.
- Wondering if not being around the child more will cause the boy or girl to grow distant as the years pass.
These are all legitimate concerns, and fathers should not lose hope about getting fair treatment with the help of a divorce lawyer.
Preparing for Custody Arrangements
If you are preparing for divorce, separation, or custody agreements, the one thing that you know for sure is that you want what is best for your child. That does not always mean that the child should be with the mother most of the time. These are some tips to remember as you prepare for custody hearings:
- If necessary, seek some attachment parenting counseling to show your interest in learning more.
- Show a genuine interest in learning the baby’s habits from the mother.
- Keep in mind that partial custody arrangements may be planned to request increasing time in your favor as a breastfed baby gets older.
In some cases, a reasonable custody arrangement can be reached with both parents being civil. However, one may be pushing for more time than what is fair at the child’s age. If a reasonable custody arrangement cannot be structured through mediation, litigation may be necessary. An attorney can help to present an argument that works in your favor to increase visits if the current arrangement is unfair.
What Factors Does the Court Consider?
Many of the attachment parenting techniques can also be performed by fathers. For example, you may be able to wear the baby in a sling or learn strategies to be emotionally available to your toddler. The most important issue with young babies or toddlers who are still being breastfed is that they are used to this time with their mother. Here are some of the important things that a judge will consider and what a divorce lawyer can use to help devise a plan in your favor:
- What is the mother’s relationship with the child?
- What is the father’s role in caring for the child?
- Do the parents live near one another?
- What is your intended plan for parenting in the future?
- What is your spouse’s intended plan for parenting in the future?
When there is an infant or a young child involved, one important issue is when the child was born. If he or she was born after the couple separated, this could create a more complex issue if the mother kept the child. However, if the baby was a few months old when the couple separated, the father also had time to bond with the baby and be a part of his or her life.
If spouses live a far distance apart, it can present more difficulties in maintaining a child’s feeding schedule. For children who are infants or toddlers, distance is especially important in a case. If a man lives only a matter of minutes away from the child’s mother, it is more feasible to work out a custody arrangement that favors the child’s best interest and gives the father a fair amount of time to spend with the child.
The child’s current arrangement and maintaining as much consistency as possible are important factors to consider. If the child is an infant who is being breastfed on demand and co-sleeping with the mother, it is a different and more difficult scenario than if the mother is pumping milk for a caregiver to give the baby while she works. If the mother is working and pumping milk, it is reasonable to say that she can give the milk to the father who wants to spend time with the child.
Making a Fair Custody Arrangement
Although many couples prefer to avoid litigation during their baby’s first year of life, some fathers have no choice when the mother is being unfair. If you want to stay a part of your child’s life while you and your spouse go through a separation or divorce, it is important to have an attorney on your side who understands the rights of fathers and the difficulties they face in these situations. Kelly Berton Rocco has been an advocate for many fathers who worked to protect their rights in custody cases. Contact us today at (201) 343-0078 to speak with a divorce lawyer. Our Hackensack office is located at 25 Main St., Suite 104. We will strive to answer any questions you may have during a consultation.