What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding and Child Custody

mom breastfeeding baby in chairThere is never a good time to get a divorce when children are in the picture. However, a unique situation occurs when a divorcing couple has a baby who is still breastfeeding at the time of their split.

This scenario can cause both spouses some anxiety when it’s time for custody decisions, as mothers are concerned about how they can continue to breastfeed their child if custody is awarded to the father, while fathers fear that they will lose their right to custody since the mother offers something to the child that he cannot provide.

When it comes to child custody in Colorado, it must be known that state laws do not automatically assign all parenting time of a young child to the mother simply because she is still breastfeeding. The parents may attempt to agree on a parenting time schedule on their own. If they are unable to agree on a schedule, then the court must establish the parenting time schedule they deem is in the best interests of the child.

Though breastfeeding a child is one factor to be considered by the court when identifying the best interests of the child, it is not the sole factor. In Colorado, the final outcome of a custody battle involving a breastfeeding baby depends greatly on the particulars of the case.

If, for instance, both parents live a great distance from each other, then it may be in the best interests of the child to live mainly with the mother and have constant contact with the father. During the father’s parenting time, the mother may be able to provide pumped breastmilk to enable the father to feed the baby. If breastmilk is not available during the father’s parenting time, then he may have to supplement with formula.

On the other hand, the court may determine that it is in the child’s best interests to live primarily with his or her father. In such a position, the court may have determined that other factors greatly outweigh the fact that the baby is breastfed. When this occurs, pumping or weaning may be seen as possible solutions to breastfeeding.

Of course, it is best for parents to arrive at an arrangement on their own, without the involvement of the courts. They may either believe that breastfeeding is truly best for the child and so the father may have to give up some parenting time while the child is young—or may both feel that the child’s time with the father is more important and are willing to supplement with formula as a result. Ultimately, there is no sole solution to the issue of child custody and breastfeeding. After all, the best interests of the child include both breastfeeding and an intimate relationship with child’s father.

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