On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
In most Florida child custody cases, the parties are spouses who have been together for years and have decided to end their union. Not every case, however, fits this mold. There are some family law cases that involve parents who either never had any intention of living together as a family, or those who learned very quickly that their relationship was not going to go the distance. In such cases, matters of child custody still need to be addressed, even if divorce is not part of the equation.
In recent decades, family courts often took the position that very young children should remain in the primary custody of their mothers, with the fathers receiving limited visitation. That approach was due to social science research that supported the notion that mothers have a closer bond with their babies than fathers, and that the best interests of the child were promoted by preserving that bond. Today, however, social science is shifting in regard to the importance of the role that fathers play, even with very young children.
A recent study looked at data collected from college students whose parents separated before the children were 3 years of age. Researchers asked the students and their parents about the division of time between households when the children were young. In addition, they were also asked about the quality of their current family bonds. The results suggest that children who spend a significant portion of time with their fathers while very young, including overnight visits, have closer bonds to both parents as adults.
This may be due to the fact that bonds are built when a parent provides for the everyday needs of a very young child. Depriving fathers of the chance to meet those care needs may have a negative impact on the parent/child bond. For fathers in Florida who are seeking a greater share of parenting time, research such as the study mentioned here could help make a string argument in family law court for shared custody.
U.S. News & World Report, “Sleepovers With Dad Can Be a Win-Win After Divorce“, Robert Preidt, Feb. 3, 2017