Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses the Role of Bonding in Child Custody Cases

The bond between an adult and a child, whether it is between the child and his or her biological parent, a foster parent, or some other adult who is in a caregiving role plays a large part in shaping the course of a child custody case. In a previous article, we described the basics of bonding and described some examples of how it is commonly used in child custody cases. Now, we invite you to take a deeper look at how bonds between children and adults form, as well as how bonding impacts the timeline for child custody cases.

Every child has a history, and an important part of that history is who their caregivers have been over time, as well as how much time the child has spent with each caregiver. Over time, birth parents will either remain constant as a child’s primary caregivers, or other things will happen, such as situations where one of both birth parents find that they cannot, for some reason, care for their child and entrust most or all of their day to day care to a grandparent, family member, or even a family friend. Children can have all different kinds of caregiving histories, so each child’s bonding situation is unique.

            The parent child bond is a two way street, so for a bond to exist, both the parent and the child must both want it to continue and expect that they will be a part of each other’s lives long-term. This sort of reciprocal attachment can be observed in the interactions between a parent and a child, and it involves both outward and obvious things like language, responsiveness, and general attitude, as well as subtle things like body language and whether the everyday interactions between the parent and child, which involve things like eating, playing, getting dressed, toileting, and so on seem natural or forced. Bonding also involves the child having a sense of identifying as part of a family, and of the child as being perceived by others as part of a specific family.

A bond may begin to form between a child and one or more caregivers after three months of a caregiving relationship. When six months of a stable caregiving situation have occurred, it is more than likely that a bond has formed. By the time that a year has passed since a change in custody, it is virtually certain that a child has bonded with their caregivers, whomever they may be.

            The time frames that relate to the development of bonds between caregivers and children have been incorporated into the timelines for child custody cases. Temporary placements are expected to be short-term solutions until a more stable and long-term placement can be located. Parents who want to be reunified with their children are expected to work on maintaining a strong bond with their children as they address the issues that led to the children’s’ removal from their care. They are also expected to have resolved those issues within a relatively short amount of time, and this expectation comes from the knowledge of how bonding works and a mandate to get children into stable and permanent homes on a time frame that meets their developmental needs.

Child custody cases can be difficult to navigate on your own. Call Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.


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Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Discusses the Role of Bonding in Child Custody Cases
Mississippi Child Custody Attorney discusses the implications of bonding in child custody matters.