Overnight Custody Arrangements, Attachment, and Adjustment Among Very Young Children

Samantha L. Tornello, Robert Emery, Jenna Rowen, Daniel Potter, Bailey Ocker, Yishan Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Large numbers of infants and toddlers have parents who live apart due to separation, divorce, or nonmarital/noncohabiting childbearing, yet this important topic, especially the controversial issue of frequent overnights with nonresidential parents, is understudied. The authors analyzed data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal investigation of children born to primarily low-income, racial/ethnic minority parents that is representative of 20 U.S. cities with populations over 200,000. Among young children whose parents lived apart, 6.9% of infants (birth to age 1) and 5.3% of toddlers (ages 1 to 3) spent an average of at least 1 overnight per week with their nonresident parent. An additional 6.8% of toddlers spent 35%-70% of overnights with nonresident parents. Frequent overnights were significantly associated with attachment insecurity among infants, but the relationship was less clear for toddlers. Attachment insecurity predicted adjustment problems at ages 3 and 5, but frequent overnights were not directly linked with adjustment problems at older ages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-885
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Volume75
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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