Things weren’t good in your marriage for a long time. But you had hope that the situation would change once you gave birth to your baby.
Unfortunately, while your bundle of joy is loved dearly by both parents, the infant proved not to be the glue that could hold this marriage together. The next step is divorce. But, how will you determine the custody of a baby only a few months old?
Attachment relationships at risk for the very young
Even very young children can grasp the concept of moving between mommy’s and daddy’s homes. But infants, of course, lack the cognition to understand what is taking place. Infants can and do form attachments with different adults in their lives. Parents, grandparents, nannies, babysitters and child care workers can all develop strong and meaningful bonds with babies. But it is part of the biological process that babies identify and bond most strongly with a single person to whom they turn most for comfort.
Mothers are typically primary attachment figures
Unless the mother dies in childbirth, gives the baby up for adoption or other factors intervene, the person to whom the infant attaches most naturally will be the mother. This is not to negate the father’s role at this time of the baby’s life, as this secondary role is still quite vital.
But the last thing either parent should want is to create an inherent insecurity (and the subsequent social and psychological problems that can arise) for the child with this primary attachment. Thus, many child psychologists tend to err on the side of caution and urge that the infants be allowed to fully bond with the mother during these critical first months.
How this might unfold in a divorce
All parents facing divorce should be guided by their children’s best interests during every juncture of a contested custody matter. This means that if it is deemed better by medical and social science professionals that very young babies should remain overnight with their mothers, the fathers can find other ways to spend quality bonding time with their infants.
Frequent visits and interactions of short duration with the fathers can keep them connected to their babies without risk of fracturing that all-important primary attachment relationship.
When the mother can’t parent initially
There are times when a mother simply is not up to the job of parenting her infant. Post-partum depression, addiction, incarceration and any number of illnesses can render her unable to provide the necessary loving care for her baby.
Does this mean that the child is destined to a life of fraught relationships? Not at all. Fathers can step easily into this role and allow the mother whatever access is appropriate now and in the foreseeable future.
Address your concerns with a family law attorney
Your Bellaire family law attorney can help you advocate for the custody arrangements that will most benefit your baby.