Custody and Visitation of a Newborn

Custody and visitation issues often arise when a couple separates or gets divorced. Who should my child live with? How often can I visit my kid? There are common questions you may ask yourself. These questions may be particularly difficult to resolve when your child is a newborn or infant. Newborns and infants have unique developmental and attachment needs as compared to an older child or teenager. These needs must be taken into consideration when working out a custody and visitation schedule for your newborn or infant child.

Newborns and Infants

There’s no doubt that newborns and infants are at a special stage in life.  They are first forming human attachments (typically first to mom, dad and/or their guardians) and learning basic human interactions. The formation of these bonds is critical to a child’s psychological and characterological development. For this reason, establishing a healthy parental bond with your baby is of the utmost importance and this begins with establishing a consistent custody and visitation routine that makes your child feel safe.

In fact, a recent study out of the University of Virginia found that infants who spend one night per week away from their primary caretaker have less-secure attachments to their primary caregiver compared to babies who had no overnights or saw their non-custodial parent only during the day. Based on this study, here are five recommendations to consider when working out a custody and visitation schedule for your newborn or infant child:

  1. Understand that a “once a week” or “every other weekend” visitation schedule may not be appropriate for your newborn or infant.
  2. Hold-off on planning overnight visitations until your child is no longer an infant. Instead, encourage frequent, day-time visitation(s) with your baby’s non-custodial parent.
  3. Try to work out a “step-up” custody schedule which permits more frequent overnight visitation as the child gets older.
  4. Do not be worried that you (if you’re the non-custodial parent) will be viewed as less of a parent because you do not have overnight visitation rights. Your most important consideration should always be what is in the best interests of your child.
  5. Know that any custody and visitation arrangement established when your child is a newborn or infant can be modified or expanded by a court as your child gets older.

Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent of a newborn or infant, an experienced attorney can help you negotiate a visitation arrangement that is in your child’s best interests. If you have a custody or visitation issue, the family law attorneys at DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC are here for you. Call us today at (703) 370 – 5555 for a consultation.

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