Age Appropriate Custody for Newborns and the Impact of Breast Feeding

When dealing with a newborn, non-birth parents – those separated from the birth mother such as a father in a traditional relationship or a non-birth mother in a gay relationship- are often outraged at how little time they are offered by the birth mother or provided by the Court. Do some computer research for “age appropriate custody arrangements” and you will find a host of articles available for your review. Suffice it to say that more and more, judges are not going with traditional custody schedules for newborn babies.

Online articles can be quite detailed, complete with studies and pages of analysis. A short synopsis can be found at http://www.familyeducation.com/life/visitation/age-appropriate- visitation.While it would be foolish to thing that any judge would follow the dictates of an online article, general guidelines to know are:

1. A non-custodial parent is not going to get overnight visits with their newborn child; and

2. This is especially true when the birth mother is breast feeding.

Non-custodial parents of infant children sometimes believe that “because it is my child” they are entitled to equal time from birth with my infant child. That simply is not true in most cases. Both parents need to remember that it is not the custody arrangement that is best for either parent that the court is concerned with; rather, it is what is best for the infant child. Almost unanimously, studies of infants and their attachment to parents find that shorter, more frequent visits wit the non-custodial parent are actually better for the infant child.

As many parents can attest, infants are only awake for two hours at a time or so as newborns. They nap frequently, awaken, are fed, (a process which can take 20 -45 minutes), stay awake for perhaps another 45 – 60 minutes, and then nap again. The cycle repeats over and over. For a non- custodial parent to be present during the feeding and the hour or so the baby is awake thereafter, several times a week, is optimal for the newborn, according to most studies.

On the other hand, for the non-custodial parent to demand more is simply not going to be granted by the court and will serve to create unneeded stress and hostility with the custodial parent.

I urge my non-custodial parents to play it smart. Make arrangements to be at the custodial parent’s house three or four days a week for two hours at a time. You will be doing what is best for your child and will create goodwill with the custodial parent. Remember, custody orders are always modifiable as the child leaves the newborn stage and moves on in life. Do what is best for your child and it will come back in great dividends, for both your child and the other parent.

The attorneys at SPEAR, WILDERMAN, P.C. are here to assist you in any matter. We look forward to getting to know you and helping you and your family through your legal problems. Call us at 856-428-8799.

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    Lois Garber Schwartz

    1040 Kings Highway N., Suite 202

    Cherry Hill, NJ 08034


    Phone: 856-375-8989

    Fax: 856-482-0343