Custody determinations are complex and involve many factors. The age of the child is one such factor, as is whether or not the child is breastfeeding. Texas law is somewhat vague on the topic, and arguments can be made for either side.
Regardless of whether you are the mother or father of an infant, if you are going through a custody battle, you’ll want to enlist in the help of a child custody attorney as soon as possible. You’ll need a lawyer to compile expert resources, help build a case in your favor and secure your time with your child.
What Texas Custody Laws Say about Young Children
Texas law doesn’t specifically take a stand one way or the other on custody and breastfeeding issues. However, it does specify that unique consideration will be given in custody cases involving children younger than three years of age.
Texas Family Code Section 153.254 says:
- “the court shall render an order appropriate under the circumstances for possession of a child less than three years of age”; and
- “the court shall render a prospective order to take effect on the child’s third birthday.”
In other words, the court decides what’s “appropriate” for infants and makes an initial custody order accordingly. Because the needs of an infant differ from that of an older child, the courts also will issue another order, which will be put into effect when the child turns three.
There are arguments that the mother should have primary custody of an infant, particularly if the child is breastfed, because some experts say “breast is best.”
Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued several statements that “reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.”
In a custody battle, a mother’s attorney can use health and parenting experts to convince the courts that breastfeeding is in the best interests of the child; therefore, the mother should have primary custody.
However, there are arguments on the other side as well. One of the factors courts take into consideration is the child’s need to develop healthy attachments with both parents. It can be argued that if the mother has exclusive custody, the father will not have enough bonding time with the baby.
While not commonplace, the courts have been known to order a mother to cease breastfeeding and switch to formula to better facilitate shared custody.
Making Sure to You Have a Divorce Attorney
Custody determinations are highly discretionary on the judge’s part. Because there are no statutes set in stone on the breastfeeding issue, it will be up to the judge to look at the facts and make a decision based on the best interests of the child.
If you are going through a custody case, you’ll want to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to start building your case. For a custody lawyer who has strategies for dealing with cases of this nature, contact the Law Office of Julie Johnson, PLLC in Dallas. Call today for a consultation – (214) 290-8001.