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Attachment research can support custody issues if used correctly

When Texas parents are negotiating custody during a divorce, there are several things that a court might consider. One of these is attachment research and the relationship between caregivers and children. But according to a group of experts, there is concern that courts do not always understand or interpret attachment theory correctly, and this can have a negative impact on the children.

How can attachment theory affect the outcome of child custody cases?

Because attachment theory focuses on the bonds that children make with their caregivers, courts might look to this research to decide whether to award primary or shared custody. In some cases, incorrect interpretation of the theory might lead to courts awarding primary custody to the parent they perceive as having the strongest bond with the child. In others, the theory might be used to decide on shared custody regardless of other factors.

What does attachment research really say?

Attachment research focuses on three main ideas. These include:

  • That a child needs to have a consistent bond with caregivers who are supportive and not abusive
  • That children benefit from having several relationships with people who are familiar with them and caring
  • That children need to have continuous care from familiar caregivers who meet their needs as time goes on

What do experts suggest?

Experts suggest that attachment research be used as a measure in child custody cases but only to support the evidence provided by observations of the child-caretaker bonds. There also needs to be proper training and education for those who will be using the attachment research. Additionally, experts suggest that the research points towards children having more benefits from family-provided care than care in an institution.

Attachment theory can be another tool in deciding what is best for the child. However, parents need to be careful that the quality of the care and the parent-child relationships are also evaluated during these decisions. Their attorneys may help structure arrangements that are in the child’s best interest.

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