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When Breastfeeding Complicates Visitation & Custody


Developing a time-sharing plan is one of the biggest challenges divorcing couples must navigate.  Children are so priceless to us that surrendering any time or experiences with them can be cause for despair.  Nonetheless, it is generally agreed that children do better when both parents are actively engaged in their lives, and that makes sharing time a fact of life. For some couples, the whole thing gets even more complex because they are dealing with children young enough to be reliant on breast milk.

Child’s Needs Must Come First 

Florida law generally demands that all decisions be made with the child’s best interests in mind.  For a breast-fed child, the countless benefits of the nursing experience are critical to consider.  Several organizations, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend breastfeeding for at least one full year. The emotional and physical advantages to both the child and the parent are indisputable. Equally important, though, is the relationship of the child with the co-parent. Indeed, any child who experiences love and support from two loving and concerned parents is in a better position to enjoy contentment and success throughout their lives. Is there a way for both essentials to be recognized and promoted for the youngest of children of divorce?

Parents Working Together 

Oftentimes there is no reason that both concerns cannot be honored.  Certainly, a lengthy separation between a nursing parent and child can be problematic, particularly with a young infant. Even overnight visits could cause difficulties for some. In many cases, it could be recommendable to introduce a bottle later on, which can be used in tandem with breastfeeding. Co-parents could have two- or three-hour visits more frequently early on, and move into longer visits, including overnight visits, with time. Either formula or pre-pumped and frozen mother’s milk can be used by a co-parent during these later periods of custody. In this way parents genuinely put a child’s best interests first, by recognizing that this coin has two sides, both extremely important to a child. Compromising and flexing to allow both issues the attention they deserve is so much better for everyone involved than the alternative.

Case in Point 

When a woman in Virginia had a dispute with her ex related to custody issues and their 6-month old daughter, she found out that the court can and must settle things when the parents cannot.  Although the woman wished to limit the father’s visitation, the court ordered that the child’s father be given overnight visitation beginning when the child turned 6 months, even if it would interfere with the breastfeeding routine.  The woman claimed that her baby was resisting bottle feeding, but the judge sided with the child’s father ordering her to pump if she wished, or to allow formula for the baby.  While the case did not take place in Florida, it definitely features the potential of a court-ordered solution when parents cannot come to an agreement on their own.

Florida Law 

Divorce can be challenging, and it’s the children who pay the price when their parents cannot play nice.  At WiseLieberman our experienced Boca Raton family law attorneys recognize the emotional issues that can be overwhelming when it comes to custody and visitation and know the importance of a family plan that protects all involved parties.  To discuss your custody and visitation concerns, schedule a confidential consultation in our Boca Raton office today.



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