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Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law

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attachment behavior, parent and child


Family Law | Law


In a contribution to this Symposium on Law and Emotion: Re-Envisioning Family Law, Phillip Shaver and his co-authors succinctly encapsulate contemporary psychological theory on interpersonal attachment -- primarily parent-child attachment and its role in creating lifelong attachment patterns -- and seek to outline the relevance of such research for both social policy and law. This Comment demonstrates that many areas of family law already seek to cultivate and reward attachment. But attachment is not and cannot be the sole-or even, perhaps, the most important-factor driving most legal determinations. Recognizing the importance of secure attachment does not answer difficult questions about how best to achieve it, particularly within the context of competing claims. In fact, taking an attachment perspective in isolation might lead to normatively bad outcomes. However, there are instances in which an attachment focus should be legally determinative, for it may sometimes illuminate outcomes that are all upside and no down. The Comment concludes by offering some thoughts about law-relevant social policy implications.

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Family Law Commons



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