Court Orders Mom to Stop Breastfeeding as Part of Custody Battle

Court Orders Mom to Stop Breastfeeding as Part of Custody BattleTennessee custody law requires that a child’s best interest be the key factor in any custody agreement. Custody agreements involve legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to long-term health and education decisions, while physical custody refers to which parent a child lives with and who supervises the child.

Agreements or orders need to be detailed plans with precise parameters outlined, even providing specifics about how children are passed from one parent to the other. Many times, the initial child custody agreement is not satisfactory and must be adjusted.

Several news outlets, including Insider and MSN, have reported about a custody agreement in Virginia which was not satisfactory for the non-custodial father. In order to meet the father’s request for more time with his baby, the mother, Arleta Ramirez, was ordered to stop breastfeeding her infant to accommodate the baby’s overnight visits with the child’s father. The baby had been exclusively breastfed from birth, was on a strict eating schedule, and was being fed every hour.

Overnight visits with the baby’s dad, Mike Ridgeway, obviously interfered with this schedule. A Prince William County judge awarded dad with four overnight visits, ordering the baby’s mom to stop breastfeeding, and to start using bottles. Ramirez is distraught, wondering why a judge would order her to stop breastfeeding, which she believes is in her child’s best interest.

In another news story, People reported that Nicole Curtis, from DIY Networks’ Rehab Addict, has had to defend her stance on breastfeeding due to a two-year custody battle with her ex. When her baby was six months old, her ex was awarded two overnight visits and she was forced to accommodate his visits, change the baby’s feeding schedule, and give the baby a bottle.

Being with both parents is in a child’s best interest, but so is a regular eating, and sleeping schedule. Family law continues to evolve as family arrangements and roles continue to change.  Tennessee custody laws have focused on shared parenting since research has shown that children need both parents as caregivers. It is also apparent that an infant’s schedule is paramount to their development and health. So, how can situations like this be avoided? Creative shared parenting plans may be the answer.

How parents of newborns can get creative in their custody plans

Orders to stop breastfeeding will not occur if parents can cooperate and make plans prior to separating, with the child’s best interest at heart. This, of course, is easier said than done when a couple is splitting.

Parents of newborns will, of course, want to spend as much time as possible with their babies, but how can this be done when the parents don’t live together anymore? Babies grow and change so quickly, and no parent wants to miss out on those times. So, how can new parents accommodate their need to each be with their baby, and not with each other, all while putting the needs of the newborn first? They must create a custody plan.

Formulating a parenting plan for an infant is a daunting task but there are some important factors to consider when designing one. A few, but not all, of the circumstances that need to be considered include:

  • Routines – Babies need consistency. A parenting plan should be based on keeping the baby’s routines intact, making sure the baby eats and sleeps regularly and that there are not many disruptions to these routines.
  • Schedules – Parent and sibling work and school schedules need to be considered and factored into the plan. Do parents work a lot or travel frequently?
  • Parent roles and responsibilities – Do parents share the caretaking, or does one parent do most of the caretaking? If so, the baby needs to be with the caretaker most of the time.
  • Distance between parent’s homes – If the distance between homes is significant, plans should be made accordingly. It is not conducive for a newborn to be carted around and traveling constantly.
  • Relationships between the child and other family members including siblings and grandparents – Does the baby see and interact with other family members every day? If so, those relationships need to be continued and nurtured.
  • Temperament of child – Does the baby have special needs; does the baby adapt well to new situations; is the baby being breastfed? If a baby experiences discomfort and irritability when their routines change, it is not fair to put them through that on a regular basis.
  • Conflict and communication – How well do the parents communicate with each other? Do they handle conflict well? Parents will need to share information about a baby’s behavior, sleep schedule, and feeding times. If they are unable to do this and be civil towards each other, the baby will suffer.

Parents must look at these factors and be creative in their scheduling. What works for one family may not work for another. A parent, by nature, must put aside their own needs and desires to care for a baby, who solely relies on them to nurture and care for them. If parents could put aside their own issues, and focus on their baby’s needs, custody plans would be much easier and costly litigation could be avoided.

Separation of any kind creates tension and conflict, and sometimes the only way to make sure a child is put first is to seek the help of skilled custody lawyers who understand the factors judges and ex-spouses consider and how those factors apply to your baby.

If you are overwhelmed by your child custody issue and don’t know what to do next, the family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates can help facilitate child custody arrangements. We are dedicated and determined to protect your child’s best interests and your custody rights. With offices in Franklin, Brentwood, and Columbia, our lawyers will help you every step of the way. Call our office to schedule a consultation, or complete our contact form.

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