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Toddlers, shared custody and primary attachment figures

One of the most complex and often controversial parts of child custody is determining what to do with toddlers as their parents split up. It can be easier with younger children, who have no opinions, or with older children, who can make their opinions and desires known. But how do you address toddlers?

One thing to consider is that toddlers choose primary attachment figures. These are the people they feel most comfortable with. You’ll often see this in times of distress.

For example, a toddler may be fine with a close family friend babysitting them when their parents are gone. If they fall and scrape their knee while playing on the sidewalk, though, and both the friend and a parent are there, they’re going to run to their parent. That’s the person they’ve bonded with and the person they trust.

Where this gets controversial is when the toddler has a closer bond with one parent than the other. Does that mean that parent should get more time with the child? Or does it just mean that the parents are going to have to actively work to change their relationships with the child so that he or she is equally close to both of them? What is really in the best interests of the child, and what choices can be made to put the child’s interests first while still protecting the rights of the parents?

This can be very complex and emotional for parents who are going through it. They absolutely need to know what legal options they have regarding custody and vistiation. An experienced attorney may be able to offer creative solutions to your custody problems.