Attachment theory describes the emotional bonds a child develops to other people and the impact the bonds have on development.
Attachment theory in psychology originates from a London psychiatrist named John Bowlby and his treatment of emotionally abused children. In 1958, Dr. Bowlby developed the notion that early separations of a child with their mother impacted a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development. The theory has since expanded to support the notion that early separations with a mother or father impact the emotional bonds a child develops and impacts a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development.
Custody in Michigan cases involving very young children pose unique challenges. The Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970 requires courts to consider the “best interest of the child” and provides 12 child custody factors for courts to apply when determining child custody in Michigan. Attachment theory seems to support the idea that a child should spend time with both a mother and a father.
However, not all relationships are “good” relationships. Attachment theory explores the consequences of a mother who is not responsive to a child’s needs or a father who does not show up for parenting time. Attachment theory warns of the risks associated with bad attachments. Specifically, the risk of poor social, emotional and cognitive development.
According to attachment theory, the critical attachments are made before the age of 9 Months, therefore, in cases involving a young child, attachment theory should be considered in application of the best interest of a child factors when addressing custody in Michigan. A child can be at great risk if intimate relationships with loving parents are disturbed.
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By: Daniel Findling