Advice for Divorced Parents with Children Under Two Years

It seems it would be easier to divorce when children are too young to get upset about it, but Sarasota Divorce Attorney Matthew Z. Martell will tell you that dealing with infants and toddlers in divorce has its own set of problems.

Attachment forming
Children this young are still forming emotional attachments to their primary caregivers, and forming those secure connections requires caregiver consistency and emotional responsiveness.  Beyond that, a baby younger than two months will usually respond to any caregiver, and only begins to recognize and prefer one caregiver over another as he or she approaches six months. From there, the preferences only get stronger until the child reaches fifteen to twenty-four months, when separation protestation becomes common.

Addressing the problem
With typical post-divorce custody schedules, one parent runs the risk of not bonding with the young child; moreover, if a child is frequently separated from a primary caregiver, his or her resulting anxiety can lead to sleeping or eating disorders, fear and clinging, heightened sensitivity etc. This will be worse if the parents’ own emotional issues cause them to be non-responsive, or cause tense situations with arguing and fighting in front of infants and toddlers. How then, do divorced parents ensure that their children are given the consistent, emotionally responsive care necessary to bond with both parents?

Visitation schedules for children this age should be liberal and allow for parents to switch off with feedings and bedtimes, so that the child gets consistent and frequent interaction with both parents. Creating a safe, secure, and stable environment is the goal, and typical visitation schedules that call for one parent seeing the child Wednesday nights and every other weekend are not in the best interests of the child. Parents should also be careful not to overuse nannies and babysitters, which can further confuse the child and upset bonding with the parents.

We Can Help
Arranging parental responsibility (custody) for very young children is a special challenge in divorce; if you need help figuring out a workable schedule, please call a top Sarasota Divorce Attorney at the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. at (941) 556-7020.