The role of adult attachment in child custody litigants




Schraegle, William Andrew, IV

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Recently, attachment theory has been proposed as a possible unifying framework for assessing the parent-child relationship as part of custody determinations, due to the theory's rich empirical support. Though forensic evaluators have begun to incorporate the child’s attachment to his/her caretaker, the question of the parents' adult attachment style has so far been overlooked as a potentially relevant area for gathering information regarding parenting. Adult attachment theory not only has implications for parenting, but also for understanding co-parenting relationships and conflicts, which is often the primary reason for many child custody referrals. This study will use an attachment framework to explore group differences between child custody litigants and satisfied married couples on the Rorschach Inkblot Test. Analyses of these variables will be completed through multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA). Additionally, discriminant function analysis (DFA) will be conducted to explore the dimensionality of the multivariate composites between groups. Information derived from the prospective study will contribute to understanding specific attachment related group differences and thus serve as the first step in establishing the R-PAS as a system for detecting attachment organization in child-custody litigants. It is hoped that this research will better inform forensic evaluators concerning: stress and coping styles; co-parenting; caregiving fitness; and ultimately child custody decisions.



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