Overnights with Fathers and Maternal Attachment in Young Children

overnights with fathers

Guest Dr. William Fabricius, above.

Show Topic: Overnights with Fathers and Maternal Attachment in Young Children

This show aired on June 23, 2017. It was hosted by attorney David Enevoldsen, a partner with the law firm Family Law Guys. Dr. William Fabricius appeared as a guest on the show. The two discussed some of the social and legal attitudes related to parenting plans involving overnights with fathers in very young children. They also discussed the scientific research surrounding paternal overnights with fathers in young children and maternal attachment and ultimately discussed whether or not it makes sense to have significant parenting time for fathers of infants or young children and what science says about it.

Guest Information

Dr. Fabricius is an associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University. He can be contacted at (480) 628-5844.

Headlines

Headlines on this show looked at the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) in the United Kingdom and the controversy surrounding it because of the organization’s denial of claims for compensation of victims of child sex abuse on the grounds that the children had consented to the sexual acts, and a story regarding Andrew Kerslake, a child sex abuse victim that received compensation from the CICA and subsequently was ordered to give his spouse a significant share of the award as part of a divorce order.

Did You Know

This show’s Did You Know looked at the Tender Years Doctrine (the idea that a mother should be deemed the primary caretaker of a child because mother’s are deemed more appropriate caretakers) and its replacement by the Best Interest Standard (which looks at what is in the best interest of a child in developing a parenting plan for that child).

Transcript of the Show

                                             Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona Family Law Firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage, to current problems in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That’s 480-565-8680.

                                              Welcome to the Family Law Report, the show that explores issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. Hosted by David Enevoldsen, a practicing family law attorney in Arizona. Now, here’s your host.

David E.:                             Hello, everybody. Welcome to Family Law Report. I’m your host David Enevoldsen. I’m here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. Here on Family Law Report, we talk about all the current topic of family law, and that can range everything from what’s happening in the political arena to just basics like how to work through some of the nuts and bolts of a divorce.

                                             I am a practicing attorney, and I work, not surprisingly, in the area of family law. When I say family law, I basically mean anything that’s related to marriage, divorce, fights over custody of children, prenuptial agreements, child support issues, that sort of thing. I’m a partner at a law firm here in Arizona called Family Law Guys. We focus primarily on helping divorcing parents avoid getting screwed out of time with their children. We have offices in the Phoenix area and if you have a family court issue, there are a lot of traps and problems that can occur in your case. Many of those are the subject of this show. That’s what we like to talk about, to make sure people are educated about this stuff, and have some understanding of what they’re getting into.

                                             I want to make sure, and I want to stress the point, family law can be a very dangerous place. I have seen a lot of situations in which people have completely lost their children. I have situations where there are massive child support or alimony payments of monthly amounts. I have seen people get slapped with judgments of tens of thousands of dollars for back support or equalization payments for attorney fees or all sorts of things. I’ve even actually seen people dragged out of courtrooms in handcuffs and thrown in jail over child support issues.

                                             So, whether you’re facing just a basic child support issue, you’re talking about a custody matter, if you’re just sitting there contemplating a divorce somewhere down the road, there are real dangers. I think it is therefore pretty incredibly important to step back and get some advice on this. Even if it’s not with my firm, go talk to an attorney, and if you can’t afford an attorney, see if you can just get an initial consultation or pay for an hour of time to just sit down with an attorney and say hey, talk about my case. Make sure that I understand my basic rights and obligations here.

                                             Again, you can talk to us, my firm is Family Law Guys and we don’t practice outside of Arizona, but if you want to call us and schedule an appointment, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680 or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                             Today I am pretty excited to have a guest with me. Dr. William Fabricius. Doctor, are you on?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Yes, I’m here, David.

David E.:                             Dr. Fabricius going to be talking with us a little bit about parental attachment and overnights with parents and I’m super excited about today. He’s done quite a bit of research in this and he knows all about this topic. So, we’re gonna get into that in just a bit.

                                             First we’re gonna hit all of our headlines. When we do the headlines, usually it’s just anything in the news related to Family Law. That can be everything from legislation, things like, there’s been a lot recently about homosexual marriage and some of the implications of that, or it can be everything down to celebrity divorces, which I find fascinating, because it’s just going through many of the same basic trials and tribulations that everyday people go through.

                                             First headline we have, actually a couple headlines we have, are related to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which is in the United Kingdom. Basically this is an executive agency in the UK that is sponsored by their ministry of justice. They deal with victims of violent crimes from England, Scotland, or Wales. What they do is they try to give money out to some of these victims who have been victims of these violent crimes, such as childhood sex abuse, for their injuries.  They pay out about £200,000,000 a year to victims of violent crimes. The website said that they want to provide, quote, compassionate assistance and fair service to blameless victims of crime, and the organization was founded back in 2012, and they’ve been running since then.

                                             The first article we’ve got surrounding them deals with the controversy regarding their payment to child sex abuse victims. They’ve  denied approximately 700 child sex victims full compensation, and that’s on the assertion that these victims consented to the sex act. Now generally speaking, just as a background, when you have … When you’re an adult and you perform a sexual act with a minor, this is a strict liability offense, meaning that you don’t need to show intent. If you have consent, it’s generally an irrelevant thing.  Legally speaking, this is a criminal act that if you do it you are just sunk. You have committed an illegal crime because there’s a presumption that if you are a child ,you can’t consent to sexual act.

                                             Acknowledging this, this organization in the UK, and keep in mind generally children under 16 in the UK as I understand it cannot legally consent to sex acts. There’s a couple charities that did some public records requests, found all this information from this organization on the denial of victims. They’re now complaining about all this. They’ve got a number of examples.  One example includes a denial of a case that had a twelve year old girl that slept with a 21 year old man. The girl was given alcohol, taken out into the woods, and then she slept with the guy. The organization ended up … I’ll refer to it as the CICA just to make it briefer. They argued that she had consented, on the theory that she came out of the woods, she was happy, and she had previously slept with another kid of her own age.  So, on those grounds, she said she basically consented to it and therefore denied her claims.

                                             There’s another case in which a 14 year old girl was assaulted by a bunch of men who were all over the age of 30 and there again, this particular child was deemed to have consented to the sex act, and she was therefore denied claims. Yet another case dealt with a thirteen year old who was taken by 23 guys, including 21 of whom had been found guilty of sex assault and had been accused of grooming children. Here again the reasoning was that you could consent in fact even if it wasn’t technically legal to consent under the law. So, the CICA has come under fire now.

                                             There’s a whole bunch of charitable organizations that have been attacking them. I’m kind of pulling this out. There is also a member of parliament who has sort of taken charge, her name is Sarah Champion, who has been pushing for all sorts of change. She was quoted as saying, quote, “When I first learned that child victims were being denied compensation by the CICA, felt they were complicit in their own abuse, I simply couldn’t believe it. The law is very clear that a child under 16 years cannot give consent, yet the CICA are ignoring this.”

                                             To me, separately, I feel like the debate seems somewhat akin to saying I’m gonna blame a victim in an adult situation, for the way … and this is kind of the underlying problem, is that a lot of these organizations are now saying you’re essentially leaving children feeling like they are at fault for having sex with somebody that’s considerably older and should know better.  We’ll see where all this goes, and if I see further news on it, I will certainly update you.

                                             On the same note, there’s a second article that is dealing with the same organization. Kind of different. It deals with Andrew Kerslake, who was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, he’s now an adult. He was molested starting back when he was five up through the age of 10. He has a quote in which he said, “I was abused over 500 times, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, left me with both physical and emotional damage,” and so he didn’t even submit a claim as I understand it. The CICA approached him and gave him £175,000, which is a considerable sum of money.

                                             He didn’t want it. He initially kicked back a little bit, he said that he considered the award to be dirty money, and he didn’t want anything to do with it because he’d just left this association. He felt that he’d been damaged. He felt, you know, there was this physical and emotional damage and he just didn’t want this reminder. He decided that he was going to take the money and put it into a trust and the trust was set up to basically just accumulate money and then ordered out to a charity as soon as he passed away. Since it was placed in the trust, the money had grown up to about £250,000, so had grown quite a bit in time.

                                             Now, step back for a second. He was married at the time that he received this award. He was married to a woman named Helen Tibbit. Of course, he wasn’t married at the time that the sex abuse had gone on, but he was married at the time of his receipt of the £175,000. So, he’s now going through a divorce, and as part of this divorce process, Helen has demanded that … She’s made this assertion that the award of the £175,000 was given him during marriage and therefore was a marital asset. So, she made a claim in the Family Court for half of the interest in what was sitting in the trust account.

                                             There’s a Judge in Wales who was running over the Family Court proceeding who ended up saying she is entitled to £100,000. Now as I understand it, this is a relatively new issue in the UK and wherever this is specifically being dealt with. I don’t think that this particular issue has come out before. I think this is relatively new law. I found this pretty interesting, that you would have someone come up and incur something during marriage but that resulted from actions that were all completely when he was a child, not married. Now he’s basically just wiped out of half of the interest of what was there. Especially in this particular situation where this guy has put this money out into a charity, and he’s trying to give this money out to someone else, and doesn’t even want the money because he just, it’s representative of this stuff that happened to him when he was little. He’s indicated that he is going to appeal the decision.

                                             We’re going to take a quick break. I’m Attorney David Enevoldsen with Family Law Guys and when we return we will be talking about parental attachment in young children and if you want to call in and ask any questions, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. You are tuned in to Family Law Report on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

David E.:                             Welcome back to Family Law Report. I’m your host David Enevoldsen, attorney with the Family Law Guys an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. If you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with either myself or another attorney at my firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                             If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX, and today we’re gonna be talking about parental attachment in young children and overnight stays. I have with me guest, Dr. William Fabricius. Dr. Fabricius, I know you do some work as an expert witness and you do a lot of research. If somebody wants to reach out to you, and we’ll get into a little more detail on this in just a second, but if they want to reach out to you and recruit you for whatever reason, either to get a copy of your article, to find out more information, to learn about using you as an expert witness, how would they reach you?

Dr. Fabricius:                    The best way would just be to call me, my phone number is 480-628-5844.

David E.:                             Okay. Before we get into talking about what we’re gonna talk about with you, I want to do our Did You Know. On Did You Know we typically just do some family law trivia, where we do … It’s often just some vestigial facts, something about the past, sometimes it’s statistics. Today I want to do something I think is gonna lead into what we are going to be talking about, I want to talk about the Tender Years Doctrine.

                                             The Tender Years Doctrine is this idea, we’ve reference it a couple times in some previous shows, but it’s this idea that used to prevail regarding what would happen to a child in the child’s so called tender years. Typically, we’re talking about age four and under. The idea under the Tender Years Doctrine was that a child should primarily be with a mother, and that if you have a split in the parents, and you have to figure out how a parenting plan is gonna be constructed, typically you want children to default to mother as the primary caretaker.

                                             This came information fashion back in the 20th century in the US. In England, it came into being in about 1839. There was an enactment of what they called the Custody of Innocents Act, and that shifted a presumption onto moms being the primary caretakers. Now, prior to that in England, there was a presumption, interesting, that fathers should be the primary caretakers. It was the exact opposite. Part of the rationale there was that if you had a woman who was divorced, she was probably not in a very good position to take care of children because she did not have the resources or the money. She probably didn’t have the job that the father would have.

                                             That shifted into the Tender Years Doctrine, which spread over to the US, and then later, and this is where it starts to segue into what we’re talking about here, in this century really, or this last century that we had, the 20th century, I should say, it shifted into a completely different standard that we call the Best Interest Standard. Part of … There’s a couple different objections to the Tender Years Doctrine, and we’re gonna elaborate quite a bit on that, I think, in just a second here.

                                             One of many concerns just on the legal front was that it seemed to be a violation of equal protection, because you’re essentially saying … You’re treating men and women differently. That is to say, a mom, because of the fact that she is a mom and nothing else, should have more parenting time than a dad. That seems to violate our Constitution. Now, that said, the Best Interest Standard, while it’s supposed to … The whole idea behind it is you’re doing what’s in the best interest of the child. This has kind of replaced the Tender Years Doctrine, which still seems to have some roots in social understanding, sometimes in the legal system.

                                             So, that’s our Did You Know. I wanted to kind of create that backdrop. Now, with that, let me turn to you, Dr. Fabricius. Before we get into any of this, maybe you can tell me a little bit about what you do, what your background is, where you came from, kind of that sort of thing.

Dr. Fabricius:                    Okay. I’m currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University at the Tempe campus. I got my PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan. Prior to coming to Arizona, I taught in the … I was an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Georgia. So, I’m trained as a research psychologist, specifically in children’s development. I’ve done a lot of research on young children’s understanding of the social world, also their understanding of the physical world. I’ve also, since the year 2000, been doing a program of research on divorce, especially on fathers, divorced fathers, but also more generally, the role that fathers play in adolescent and young adult development. I’ve had research grants from the National Institute of Health to study both of those kinds of areas. I’m still very actively involved in all of that kind of research now.

David E.:                             This is very interesting. Obviously this is perfectly in line, not only with this show, but a lot of the stuff that we were just now talking about in terms of the Tender Years Doctrine, and stuff that I see constantly in court. Maybe we can segue into this a little bit. Starting off, I’m assuming you’ve heard of the Tender Years Doctrine before, is that a fair statement?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Yes.

David E.:                             Okay. Can you tell me a little bit about … This is a social policy that’s been in place, and there’s been this presumption … I personally have clients or other parties come to me all the time and say basically that I’m mom and I should have the child because I’m mom. That’s just how it is. That’s sort of social/legal front that we were talking about, maybe we can shift it a little bit more on the science side of this. Historically, has there been any research supporting that that’s better for the child?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Well, in psychology we can trace that idea back to the early ’70’s with, I believe it was a book by Anna Freud and two collaborators. They were taking a Freudian theoretical position that babies were attached only to the mother. They argued that that was sort of the natural development for the child. Then with the advent of modern attachment theory, which was instituted by John Bowlby in England starting in the … well really starting after World War II, but he started publishing his major works in the ’70’s, John Bowlby, he initially also agreed with Freudian views that the primary attachment figure for the young infant was the mother, but he soon abandoned that theory. The research, the actual modern research on attachment that stems from his theory that really was in the late ’70’s and into the ’80’s really showed that there’s no actual empirical evidence for the idea that babies will primarily get attached to the mother figure as opposed to the father figure.

                                             This idea has its roots back in the ’30’s and the ’40’s and the ’50’s and Freudian theories. It had a little bit of initial impetus from early attachment theory in the 1970’s, but there’s no real empirical evidence for it. The research doesn’t show that babies get more or better attached to mothers versus fathers. There are still a few attachment theorists around, and they’re mostly older people who will still say that. There really is no evidence for it.

David E.:                             Now, let me back up just a second, just make sure we’re kind of clear on this for listeners. We kind of … Both of us have been throwing around the term attachment a bit. Can you explain what exactly does that mean? Is that including just kind of a bond with that particular caretaker? Does that mean that there’s additional health benefits? Psychological benefits? What specifically are we talking about?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Attachment … The idea is that the human infant, in order to survive, literally physically survive and not freeze or death or be carried off by a predator, back in our early days as a species … The idea is that a human infant, because it’s so vulnerable, has to maintain closeness to the caregiver. The baby is set up to feel distress, feel insecurity, whenever they’re left alone or separated from the caregiver. They go into a stress reaction and as we all know, they cry. That’s the physical manifestation of a severe stress reaction. That brings the parent or the caregiver back from whatever they’re doing and increases the infant’s chances of survival.

                                             As that process happens, the baby then, as it survives and gets older, comes to either expect unconsciously that people will be there for me when I am distressed and need help, or if they happen to have very unresponsive caregivers, and they survive, they end up with unconscious expectations that people will disappoint me and not be there for me, and then as they get older, the idea is that this colors their future relationships and their unconscious expectations about either acceptance or rejection, which then-

David E.:                             Sorry, let me cut you off for just one sec, we gotta jump to a quick break. I’m attorney David Enevoldsen with Family Law Guys and when we return we’re gonna let Dr. Fabricius finish his thought and talk more about parental attachment in young children. You are tuned into Family Law Report on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

                                             Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona Family Law Firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage, to current problems in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That’s 480-565-8680.

David E.:                             Welcome back to Family Law Report. I’m your host David Enevoldsen, attorney with the Family Law Guys an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. If you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with  myself or another attorney at my firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                             If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX, and today we’ve been talking about parental attachment and I’ve got as my guest, Dr. William Fabricius. Dr. Fabricius just one more time, if somebody wants to reach out to you and either find out more information or inquire about using you or your services, how would they reach you?

Dr. Fabricius:                    My phone number is 480-628-5844.

David E.:                             Okay, now right before we went to break, we were talking, you were giving us a pretty good explanation I think of what attachment is and what we mean by that, and what kind of the prevailing theory previously was. Did you want to elaborate anymore on that? I cut you off just before we went to break.

Dr. Fabricius:                    Just to say that babies will become emotionally attached to responsive and attentive caregivers. That is very important for them to do. It is one of the predictors of their future social and behavioral and physical health. From everything we know, mothers aren’t, or women aren’t any better at responding to infants so that infants attach to them securely any better than fathers. Basically what we find is when you assess mothers and fathers in terms of the baby’s attachment to both of them, babies are equally likely to be securely attached to mom and insecurely attached to dad, versus vice versa, being securely attached to dad and insecurely attached to mom. It really depends on the person who is giving care to the baby, not the gender of the person.

David E.:                             Sure. You said before that there really was no empirical support for this idea that an infant is gonna attach primarily to mom, if you disrupt that relationship, you’re gonna create all these psychological problems. Despite the fact that there isn’t any empirical research affirming that, are there articles in the past that have dealt specifically with these issues?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Well the articles that I think you’re referring to are the ones that looked at … Are you still there?

David E.:                             I’m here, yeah.

Dr. Fabricius:                    Okay. There’s very few studies that have looked at overnight parenting times when the parents get divorced. I have done a very recent study on that.  Prior to that there were maybe three other studies that looked at that issue. So there’s very little research done. The prior studies are often cited in family courts as arguing that there should be no overnight parenting time for very young infants. Those prior studies have serious flaws in them.

                                             I was motivated to do a study that tried to get around those kinds of flaws and what we found was exactly the opposite. That the more overnight parenting time at the father’s home, the better the long-term father-child relationship and the better the long-term mother-child relationship. So, it looks like giving both, giving the father substantial overnights when the child is young helps him become a better parent and lays a good foundation for their future relationship. It also seems to benefit the mother-child relationship because if you think about being a full time single parent, that puts a lot of stress on someone. Sharing the overnight seems to also benefit the long term mother-child relationship.

David E.:                             That seems kind of intuitive to me because if you’ve got … If you’re reducing the stressors on one of the parents, that’s going to roll off into the children because from my experience it seems like children absorb what you’re going through. You know, when you have a stressful divorce or something, the kids pick up on that and I think they react negatively. At least, that’s been my experience. What you’re saying, to me, sounds very intuitive.

                                             Am I correct that you wrote an article called, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers: A Policy Debate and New Data.”

Dr. Fabricius:                    Yes. That was published this year in the Journal of Psychology, Public Policy and Law.

David E.:                             Could you talk a little bit about what was underlying that, what research you did related to that, what the conclusions were?

Dr. Fabricius:                    The way we did the research was we interviewed parents whose children now were college students, so they were 18 to … I think their average was 19 years of age. We asked the parents to think back and remember how many overnights they had when their child was one year old, two year old, under one, an infant under one, and when they were one to two and then two to three years of age. So, we independently emailed and asked both of the parents, and they agreed very highly on how many overnights the child had with the father during the child’s first three years. We also asked the parents to report on how much conflict they had back then, their education, their income, and we also asked them, importantly, whether the amount of parenting time was decided and agreed upon by them or whether it was imposed by the court.

                                             Then we asked the 19 year olds to report on their current, now in their 19 years of age, the current closeness and emotional quality of the relationship with each of their parents. What we found was the more overnights that the child had with fathers home, even when the overnight parenting schedule was imposed by the court, the better, the stronger, the closer the father-child relationship when the child now is a young adult. Same thing for mothers. Overnights appeared to benefit both the long term mother-child and father-child relationships. We didn’t find any harm associated with it but on the contrary, we found important benefits associated with it, up to and including equal overnights and mom’s house and dad’s house.

David E.:                             That’s interesting, because it seems to directly … In light of the fact that there isn’t any, or at least not much, empirical data out there, it seems to directly conflict with the conclusions I’ve heard, and it’s my understand the previous articles had come to.

Dr. Fabricius:                    Yeah, it does. It conflicts with the studies that are out there which are deeply flawed, but it is consistent with modern attachment theory.

David E.:                             Can you … Is it easy to summarize why you think the previous research was flawed?

Dr. Fabricius:                    One, the studies that are cited most often, their primary findings were based on measures that don’t have validity. Without getting into the technical aspects of that, they used measures that don’t really measure the quality of the parent-child relationship. In addition to that, they didn’t find any clear relationships with those measures. So there’s two problems. The measures didn’t have validity, and then even the findings with those measures were not clear.

David E.:                             Gotcha. Acknowledging that, it sounds like not only is your research pretty cutting edge in this particular arena, but that you’re coming up with some very unique conclusions and there’s just not that much else out there. Do you think that more research needs to be done in this particular area? Or do you think we have pretty much the answers on this?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Well, no, of course more research needs to be done. The problem is a lot of the research on divorce that’s out there has some really serious limitations to it. Very few of the studies actually measure the father-child relationship. Few of them measure the mother-child relationship, but that’s the most important immediate consequence of divorce and parenting time. If the child doesn’t spend sufficient time with his parent, that in and of itself is going to limit the closeness and the depth of their relationship. I’ve done a lot of studies with divorce, with children whose parents divorced when they were older, not just infants, and we find this repeatedly. The children of divorce who end up with the closest long term relationships with both of their parents are the ones who had equal parenting time at both of their parents’ homes. THat’s true when the parents report that they were in low conflict during the divorce and after and it is also true for parents who report that they were in high conflict during the divorce and for a number of years afterwards. In both kinds of cases, low conflict and high parent conflict, more parenting time is better for both the mother-child and the father-child relationship long term. That has very important long term consequences for those children’s physical health years later in terms of stress-related chronic diseases, in terms of mental health [crosstalk 00:41:11] …

David E.:                             That’s interesting, so it even extends into physical implications, not just psychological stuff, which I guess are going to be intertwined.

Dr. Fabricius:                    An important predictor of long term physical health is the quality of a 22-23 old, the quality of their relationship with their mother and father predicts their physical health.

David E.:                             We’re gonna jump to another quick break. I’m attorney David Enevoldsen with Family Law Guys and when we return we’re gonna talk more about parental attachment in young children and overnight parenting plans. If you want to call in and ask any questions, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. You are tuned in to Family Law Report on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

David E.:                             Welcome back to Family Law Report. I’m your host David Enevoldsen, attorney with the Family Law Guys an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. If you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with myself or another attorney at my firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                             If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX, and today we’ve been talking, I have my guest, Dr. William Fabricius. We’ve been discussing parental attachment and overnights with fathers and young children. Dr. Fabricius just one more time, if somebody wants to reach out to you to find out more about anything you can do or any of the information you have, how would they get ahold of you?

Dr. Fabricius:                    My phone number is 480-628-5844.

David E.:                             Great, thank you. Now before we jumped to break, we were talking a bit about the actual research that’s out there related to having involvement with a very young child, both parents, that seems to conflict with some of the stuff we’ve heard previously, like the Tender Years Doctrine. The idea … Some of the articles that were out previously, this idea that a father shouldn’t have overnight time, or should have significantly less time with their very young child because that was gonna create all these problems, either psychological and/or physical problems. Now, it seems to me that there’s a lot of … Even if this is what the research indicates, and this is pretty clear, there’s a lot of social change that would have to happen as well.

                                             I remember reading an article not too long ago that was talking about the shift in stay-at-home dads, and the number of those. If you went back to say the ’70’s, it was an almost shameful thing, you would never admit that you were a stay-at-home dad. Now it seems much more acceptable. I personally know a few, and nobody seems to think anything of it. Do you feel that the shift in attitude that you’ve seen, particularly in the family courts, but also in the public in general, has caught up with this research? Is it in sync with this research? Or do you think that still a lot of change needs to happen there.

Dr. Fabricius:                    Well, the way I see it, and we’ve done a lot of public opinion research, the public opinion, the cultural views of mothers and fathers are evolving fastest. In second place are the policies, the social and divorce and work policies. I think the one that’s lagging behind at this point is the research.

David E.:                             Interesting.

Dr. Fabricius:                    It’s actually the opposite of what it should be, I think. We’ve done a lot of interviewing actually of Arizonans in terms of their views about equal parenting time, and it turns out the public in Arizona, for years, has been solidly behind the idea that children should have two equal homes in a divorced family. We finally got the law changed in Arizona in 2013, but still when you pick up most studies of divorce and parenting time nowadays you’ll see people drawing the opposite conclusion.

David E.:                             Let me dive into that just for people listening. When you say the law changed  win 2013, what are you referencing?

Dr. Fabricius:                    The Arizona Child Custody Statutes 401 and 403 were changed significantly starting in January 1st 2013. The governor at the time, Jan Brewer, signed a statement saying that the intent of the law was to, the quote was “Limit the one-sided custody decisions, so that children would have more shared and equal parenting time.” That, as far as we can tell, has been the effect, generally in Arizona.

David E.:                             Interesting. And this is all considerably before … I guess not considerably before, but this was several years at least before the research that you published, and there really wasn’t anything empirical. It does seem to support what you’re saying, that

Dr. Fabricius:                    Well, I had published a lot of research before that actually did inform the legislators and policy makers in Arizona. It wasn’t specifically on infants parenting time, it was more generally for children. The study that I did on infant parenting time was published this year, but I’ve done a lot of research since the year 2000 which the policymakers, the judges, attorneys, family law people, mental health people that I’ve worked with in the state were very, very receptive to hearing the findings of what are the consequences of parenting time. That resulted in a really unique law that Arizona has. We are currently in the forefront of progressive child custody legislation in terms of the other states in the country.

David E.:                             Very interesting. There’s a document that I’ve seen floating around, I don’t know if you’re familiar with this, it’s called the Parenting Time Guidelines in Maricopa County. Are you familiar with those?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Yeah, sure.

David E.:                             By my read, and I’ve had this kind of thrown in my face by a couple of attorneys … Let me back up a step. Anecdotally, my experience in family court has been for the most part everybody’s shifted into this new policy that there’s kind of a presumption that as long as parents are … you know, they’re not beating their children or strung out on drugs or something, that they should presumptively have an equal amount of time with a young slid or an older child or anything, subject to the best interest analysis. Now, it seems to me that that particular document looks at a presumption of the exact opposite, kind of the older system. Do you feel that … and I guess I’m not aware that this has been specifically revoked, although this is from 2009, so it kind of predates the rule change. Do you feel that this is now obsolete and shouldn’t even be looked at anymore? Do you have the same kind of impression?

Dr. Fabricius:                    The presumption and the guidelines, as I read the guidelines, they give you lots of different alternatives to choose from. They provide different types of schedules, people can choose. It was done in 2009 before the law changed, but I think it’s still usable simply because it outlines different schedules that might be appropriate for different families.

David E.:                             Gotcha. It’s my understanding we have a caller. Derek, do you want to put him on?

Caller Patrick:                   Hello.

David E.:                             Patrick are you there?

Caller Patrick:                   I’m here, are you there?

David E.:                             We are here, yes. What was your question?

Caller Patrick:                   My question is how important is it for a son to spend time with his real dad in those teenage years of high school?

David E.:                             Dr. Fabricius, do you have any thoughts on that?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Generally it’s very important for children to spend time with both of their parents. Children tend to think that if they’re not spending time with their parent, it must be because their parent doesn’t want to. The risk there is that they’re feeling rejected. You want to try to avoid that.

Caller Patrick:                   What if you’re having custodial interference?

Dr. Fabricius:                    Well then you should try to … Courts have mechanisms for dealing with that.

David E.:                             Well I think I’ll speak a little bit, if I can jump in here to. I think that speaks a little bit to parental alienation claims and part of what you’re doing in the family court process is trying to insure … A piece of what we’re talking about here is just the underlying process and the research related to it. That is to say what is the default that you should have a child interacting with either parent at any given time, what should the parenting plan be. Now, as Dr. Fabricius correctly said, the court is a mechanism by which to ensure that you have a parenting plan that’s going to allow you time. If you’ve got some sort of custodial interference or parental alienation going on, that is to say that one parent is poisoning the child against the other parent, part of what you need to do is go back to the court and make sure that you’ve got a parenting plan or something in place, or bring in a third party expert to ensure that the child is interacting appropriately with both parents. Then deal with those in that way.

Caller Patrick:                   Thank you for your help guys. Keep up the great work.

David E.:                             Absolutely. Thanks for your call Patrick.

                                             It does seem … and again, my personal experience has been I do from time to time have attorneys come to me in the family court system that have asserted a position that mom should have more time just because mom is mom. I have on rare occasion had a few judges that seem to not necessarily expressly say that, but would issue rulings that seemed consistent with that basic presumption to me. However, for the most part, my experience has been that there is this kind of presumption that you follow the Best Interest Standard and under that, you get equal time. That’s about all the time we have for today’s show.  You’ve been listening to Family Law Report, and I am David Enevoldsen, attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm. Weave been talking about parental attachment in young children. I’ve had with me my guest Dr. William Fabricius and Dr. Fabricius just one more time, if somebody wants to reach out to you, how do they get you?

Dr. Fabricius:                    My phone number is 480-628-5844.

David E.:                             Join us again next week on Sunday at noon for more of the latest on family law here on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX, and remember it is very important to talk to an attorney if you have a family court case going on. Check us out on www.familylawguys.com. Thank you all for listening, have a great week.

KFNX:                                  Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies like gay marriage to current problems with the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married, or going through divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon here on KFNX. If you want to know more, or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That’s 480-565-8680.

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