• attachment theory;
  • divorce;
  • family law

Every day in family law courts and mediation rooms across the world, complex decisions are made about postseparation parenting that affect the developmental outcomes of countless children. Attorneys, judges, parents, and even mental health professionals are often poorly equipped to accurately apply developmental knowledge to these decisions, including knowledge from the vast field of attachment theory. A mounting body of research from developmental psychology and neuroscience confirms attachment relationships to be a central axis of the child's developmental pathway, in every family, in every culture throughout the world. The health of a child's attachments can influence multiple and far-reaching outcomes. As such, attachment theory and knowledge deserve a place in the family court's deliberations and planning for children, but to date, that place remains ill defined. Inconsistencies and misunderstandings, conundrums and complexities of applying attachment knowledge to divorce and separation matters are evident throughout the field. This Special Issue went in search of a shared praxis of meaning about attachment. The resulting collection of papers and interviews documents the views of multiple, eminent attachment experts, who discuss advances in the theory and consider guidelines for legal and mental health practitioners in applying attachment concepts to post-separation decision making. This opening paper charts the course of this project and summarizes the major points of convergence.