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Study suggests infants and toddlers benefit from frequent overnight time with fathers


A new study addresses previous findings and data suggesting that very young children benefit in both their relationships with their mothers and fathers when overnights with noncustodial fathers are frequent.

There is significant debate but little data on the study of infants and toddlers and frequent overnight parenting time with their noncustodial fathers. A new study addresses previous findings and data suggesting that very young children benefit in both their relationships with their mothers and fathers when overnights with noncustodial fathers are frequent. The journal article is published Feb. 2 in the American Psychological Association journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law, titled, “
Should infants and toddlers have frequent overnight parenting time with fathers? The policy debate and new data.”

Data from the study demonstrated that, “Not only did overnight parenting time with fathers during infancy and toddlerhood cause no harm to the mother-child relationship, it actually appeared to benefit children’s relationships with both their mothers and their fathers,” said William Fabricius, ASU associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “Children who had overnights with their fathers when they were infants or toddlers had higher-quality relationships with their fathers as well as their mothers when they were 18 to 24 years old than children who had no overnights.

The full-text of the study offers a review of the data and subjects studied and the correlations among various parenting situations and the quality of parent-child relationships. Few can dispute the importance of parenting time and overnights with noncustodial fathers who desire as much time with their children as they can get.

A general roadmap of contested child custody and what parents may expect:

When child custody is disputed in divorce cases, there are various options for parents seeking increased parenting time and overnights. There are general guidelines and standard possession and access orders setting visitation time with non-custodial parents, most often fathers. In a recent podcast interview, Mark Scroggins talks about
creative custody and visitation schedules.

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on custody and visitation, it becomes necessary to convince your judge that your proposed parenting plan is in the best interest of the child. There are a set of “best interest of the child” factors in the Texas family code. When presenting evidence to the court it may be useful to offer persuasive research and data about parenting time.

In a contested custody case, you may also be the parent requesting the court appoint a child custody evaluator. Most child custody evaluators are licensed and approved mental health professionals who interview everyone involved in a contested custody case. After concluding their work, the evaluator prepares a report and recommendation to be submitted to the court for consideration.

Using research and findings that tend to support a parent’s arguments for increased parenting time:

At any point in the process of determining a parenting plan in setting forth custody and visitation decisions in every child’s best interests, new data and findings can be used in negotiation. In creating an agreeable parenting schedule, it may be important to stress the data and findings that very young children really need time with their fathers. The same arguments can be made to a judge, when as parents, there is an impasse to agreement. Where appropriate, addressing the evaluator or their report with research and data, may also be persuasive when seeking additional frequent overnights and parenting time.

As more information and data becomes available from the mental health communities, the family law system can review and elect to respond to new information when it is time to consider how the courts and family law process can affect children on a short and long-term basis. There is a long history of multidisciplinary information sharing that can be seen in our current family law practices which are always subject to debate.

Dallas, Collin and Denton County Board Certified

divorce and family law attorney
Mark Scroggins, along with the team at
Scroggins Law Group represents clients in a variety of divorce and family law matters.

At Scroggins Law Group, we have more than 24 years of experience with family law cases in Dallas, Collin and Denton Counties. When you retain our firm, you can trust that your case is in the hands of a highly skilled, dedicated professional. we understand the unique challenges of a high value divorce case, and more importantly, have the knowledge and experience you need on your side. Call us today, (214) 469-3100, to learn more about Texas divorce and family law.

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