Nearly everyone has heard stories about divorce battlegrounds where heated child custody battles are brewed, and no boxing gloves are used. A complex variety of factors get thrown into the mix and can often affect the outcome of the custody ruling. Judges consider factors like location, age of the child, a parent’s relationship with the child, income, and how close the child’s relationship is with a parent. Then, if the child is an infant, an additional layer of complexity is added to the case, particularly if the baby is breastfeeding.
Child Cusody and Breastfeeding
If there is a child custody breastfeeding issue involved in a Texas divorce, it helps reveal the complex nature of legal decisions for the courts, and it highlights the need of working with an experienced family attorney who is well versed on breastfeeding laws. For the benefit of children under the age of three years old, a judge will consider the following before determining a parenting plan:
- Family Dynamics – the willingness and availability of each parent to individually care for the young child
- Status Quo – who was previously providing care, and how much contact there was between each parent and the child
- Co-parenting Relationship – the ability of both parents to share in the duties, rights and responsibilities of parenting, and how well they get along
- The Child’s Individuality – the child’s physical, developmental, behavioral and medical needs
- Family Unit – existence of brothers and sisters
- Geographic Concerns – distance between the parents’ homes
- Child’s Adaptability – whether a schedule allowing transition time is necessary for best adjustment
Divorcing parents are encouraged by the states to determine their own arrangements for child custody, keeping in mind what is the best for the child. In the case of a child who is breastfeeding, some parents arrange for the father to come visit the child at the mother’s home and then allow the mother to periodically come in to feed the baby at intervals. Alternatively, other parents arrange for the baby to stay longer periods with the father by having the mother pump breast milk. Parents are encouraged to negotiate workable visitation and parenting arrangements that will best benefit the child.
Each state makes its own child custody laws and does not necessarily have individual breastfeeding laws in place. Additionally, each state may have differing views on whether or not to specifically consider child custody breastfeeding issues independently when deciding divorce cases. Some states like Utah, Maine and Michigan, however, do have laws that require a court to consider whether a baby is breastfeeding or if the child is of a certain age that requires nutrition and sustenance from breast milk. Unique consideration must be given in the state of Texas to children under the age of three who are involved in custody cases. The court can use its discretion in deciding what is best for an infant when making an initial child custody order. Because of the baby’s unique needs, the court will then issue another order that will go into effect when the child reaches three years of age.
As in any court case, a judge’s decision may be swayed by the ability of the father or mother to effectively argue his or her case for custody of the baby. For example, the mother may give the argument that breast milk is best for a baby, so primary custody of the infant should be awarded to the mother, at least until the baby’s third birthday. Contrariwise, the father’s lawyer may argue that the child needs to develop a healthy attachment to each parent, so it would be detrimental to give exclusive custody to the mother, because that action could inhibit the father’s parental right to bond with his child.
Divorce + Infants = Difficult
Divorce cases that involve infants can prove to be extremely challenging. New parents can be faced with not only adjusting to having a new baby but also to living in a separate home than the other parent and having to co-parent in potentially unfavorable circumstances. Because of the complex nature and possibly contentious atmosphere of child custody cases, individuals who find themselves in the middle of such circumstances would do well to consider working with a highly reputable divorce and child custody lawyer. An attorney with a proven track record of success in helping a parent obtain the most ideal setup in the divorce and in the custody issue can prove to be an invaluable asset.
Set Up Your Initial Consultation
Because the knowledge of unique issues surrounding an infant under the age of three is crucial to the outcome of a child custody case, one should seek out and speak with a highly qualified attorney who can help steer one’s ship correctly through the oftentimes choppy waters of the legal and court system. It is crucial that a baby’s rights be protected and its needs met. Contact me for a consultation.