Addressing the Challenges Brought on by Breastfeeding Infants, Custody, and Visitation in New Jersey
An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Assist Divorced or Separated Parents in Creating an Effective Custody Agreement That Facilitates Breastfeeding in Ocean or Monmouth County, NJ
While there is never an opportune time to end a marriage, separating and divorcing soon after a baby is born is especially troublesome. Parents may disagree on their custodial sharing arrangement. Still, they can be sure that a judge deciding child custody will consider the child’s best interests first and foremost. In determining what that is, a judge looks at several factors that inform what is best for the child, given their age, gender, and parents. They examine the circumstances and capacity of each parent to provide for a child’s needs and development in all aspects of their lives, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.
Multiple Benefits of Breastfeeding a Newborn
One practical consideration for a court is the child’s nutritional needs, which may be problematic when a mother chooses to breastfeed. Breast milk is most nutritious for babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Breast milk changes to fulfill a baby’s growing nutritional needs. So, while an infant needs strong immunological protection, mother’s milk provides powerful antibodies known to reduce the risk of infection, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome. However, as the baby’s nutritional needs change, breastmilk changes to provide more fat and other contents. Many health sources agree it is the perfect food source for a growing human.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months because breastfeeding provides unique health benefits to mother and child. It protects a baby against common illnesses like diarrhea, eczema, and tooth decay. Additionally, a breastfed baby is less likely to develop Crohn’s disease, diabetes, leukemia, and orthodontal problems. Also, research confirms that breastfed children have higher IQs as breast milk nutrients are crucial to a baby’s brain development. In fact, those benefits continue the longer breastfeeding continues, even after one or two years, thereby decreasing the incidence of high blood pressure and reproductive cancers.
Emotional benefits include physical bonding and closeness. Since breastmilk is easier to digest, a baby has less gut discomfort, and breastfeeding promotes happy hormones for a mother, making both mother and child happier.
Economic and Convenience Benefits
Breastfeeding is also more convenient and economical as it does not require bottle preparation and formula purchases. For parents with financial stresses, breastfeeding may be essential.
The Complexities of Breastfeeding and Long Periods of Parenting Time
While breastfeeding has clear nutritional and emotional benefits, it makes shared parenting time difficult. Typically, an infant needs nourishment every couple of hours, and that does not allow the other parent extended time with the child. New Jersey family law does not consider breastfeeding necessary to fulfill the child’s best interests but does consider a child’s nutritional needs. The significant interest in bonding with both parents is in tension with those needs. A child has a right to a relationship with both parents, providing both do not jeopardize their child’s wellbeing.
Ideally, both parents cooperate to promote the child’s optimal nutritional and relationship needs, working out a schedule that accommodates breastfeeding and bonding time with the other parent. As the child grows, the time between feedings extends, which may allow longer times away from the mother, who can pump milk for bottle feeding if the child takes to it.
Practical Ideas to Supply the Child’s Basic Needs while Breastfeeding
Both parents must compromise to meet the child’s legal standard’s best interests. Otherwise, a judge must make the determination. They may order less time with the father, maybe multiple short visits, while the mother is breastfeeding but require the mother to work toward a schedule and resources that allow the baby more time away from her without jeopardizing breastfeeding.
For example, a mother can prepare for visits by pumping milk and building up a store for the father to feed the baby with during his time. So long as both parents cooperate in co-parenting, they will keep each other informed of the baby’s feeding amount while away from mom so she can pump to refill the supply. As the child grows, overnights may be possible first on an every-other-night basis to give mom time to restore the breastmilk supply.
The Importance of Flexibility in Drafting Child Custody Agreements
Once the baby starts taking solid foods, the scheduling should become easier, but flexibility is always necessary to accommodate the child’s needs. For instance, a sick child may need more or less breast milk, or a child who is not meeting growth milestones at their pediatrician checkups may need more milk or supplements. Consulting with the child’s pediatrician is the best way to determine the child’s nutritional needs, and visits may need to be adjusted to accommodate those needs.
Of course, when breastfeeding ends, the court can order new custodial arrangements. However, a couple may avoid having a court decide child custody at each stage of a child’s development by hiring an experienced family law attorney skilled in crafting creative custody agreements. When a family lawyer practices long enough, they encounter innumerable child custody situations and arrangements. Therefore, they have a store of valuable information to help you come up with potential compromises that change as a child’s needs change.
Thus, while a breastfeeding newborn needs more time with the mom, an older child can share equal time with both parents when possible, and it is in the child’s best interests. A teenager might want to choose which parent to reside with and which to visit. Courts consider different factors as children grow in deciding what is best for a child.
Contact Our Brick or Sea Girt Offices to Speak with Our Child Custody Attorneys about Your Concerns over Breastfeeding and Time with Your Infant
At Bronzino Law Firm, our seasoned family law attorneys know what a judge most likely will order as child custody, so we can provide great advice and suggestions for your child custody agreement. However, if you and your ex cannot agree, our custody lawyers can argue to the judge that your reasons for the custodial arrangement suit your child’s needs and yours the best. We will help you prepare for a child custody hearing or modification hearing in Ocean County or Monmouth County, advising you which documents and witnesses to bring to court to prove that your proposed custody schedule is in the child’s best interests.
You may need an expert to testify on your behalf. Therefore, when your breastfeeding baby is the subject of a custody dispute, hire an experienced family law attorney at Bronzino Law Firm to help you in Colts Neck, Freehold, Beachwood, Manchester, Eatontown, Neptune, Rumson, and throughout Southern New Jersey. Call us at (732) 812-3102 or contact us online to set up a free initial consultation. Let our experienced attorneys provide support to work on enforceable and amicable agreements covering both the child’s and parent’s needs.