Children don't often get much say in the aftermath of a divorce. Parents make decisions, and courts make rulings, all seemingly with the best interests of the child in mind. Until recent generations, courts assumed that it was dangerous to separate a child from its mother - especially overnight - until the child was old enough to attend school. For this reason, both fathers and children may have missed important opportunities to bond.
Researchers are beginning to realize the error in this thinking. More often, child advocates are encouraging family law courts to even out the amount of time each parent spends with the children.
Sleepovers improve lives
You may have your own opinions about shared parenting and the philosophy of allowing children as young as infants to spend the night away from their mothers. However, studies have found that children who spend the night with their divorced fathers as infants and toddlers develop much deeper, more meaningful relationships with both parents.
Some of the benefits reported from overnight visits with fathers starting at a very young age include the following:
- Fathers were more engaged in the lives of their children.
- Fathers learned how to care for their children's needs throughout the entire cycle of the day.
- Children seemed to be healthier and better adjusted.
- Fathers developed a deeper sense of responsibility for their children.
- Children's relationships with their mothers improved because mothers were less stressed about being single parents.
- The more often the children stayed with the father, the stronger their relationships grew.
Those bonds were still evident well into young adulthood. When parents delayed overnight visits with dads until the children reached ages 5 or 6, they were not able to create a connection with their children with the same intensity.
Working it out without litigation
No matter how you feel about your ex-spouse, you certainly want the best opportunities for your child. If you know that your spouse genuinely wants the same thing, it may be in everyone's best interest to establish a parenting plan that benefits everyone, especially since you and your spouse will likely be working together for the good of your child for many years to come.
If you and your spouse are able to negotiate and agree on crucial child custody issues, you may be able to avoid a bitter and demoralizing trial. With the help of an attorney, you can work out the details in cooperation with your spouse and his or her legal counsel. However, if negotiations break down and litigation seems like the only solution, you will want your attorney to represent your interests with passion as the case goes to trial.