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Child custody and the very young

Sometimes, child custody matters arise involving babies or other very young children. Generally, the main aim in child custody matters is to reach an arrangement that is in a child's best interests. One question that can arise when it comes to the very young in custody matters is: are there any special considerations that need to be made when it comes to determining what is in the best interests of such children?

One view that arose among many individuals was that one thing that is, generally, in the best interests of a child under the age of four whose parents are separated or divorced is to live with the mother most or all of the time. This came out of a belief that frequent overnight visits with the father can create problems for very young children.

Recent research, however, has indicated that this common belief may be dead wrong. A research report from a psychologist concluded that there is not scientific support for the view that regular overnight visits to fathers are harmful for young children. The report's conclusion has been endorsed by numerous experts.

A question this raises is: how did the view that frequent overnight visits with fathers are potentially bad for young children arise and gain such prominence in the first place? A recent article on the Huffington Post's website argues that it arose from faulty data and incorrect conclusions being drawn from previous research.

Views regarding what is best for children have the potential to have major effects on many things, including child custody policies in states (which can have vast impacts on both parents and children). Thus, one hopes that all individuals, especially policy makers, make sure to carefully look into whether commonplace views on what is best for children are actually true.

Source: Huffington Post, "What Divorced Dads Want for Father's Day: More Time With Their Babies," Linda Nielsen, May 15, 2014

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