The court will prefer that you and your child’s other parent come to an agreement about child custody. However, if you can’t come to an agreement, the court will make a decision about child custody based on the best interests of your child, and breastfeeding may be a factor in the court’s decision.
Breastfeeding May Be Considered in Child Custody Decisions
Nursing moms will not be automatically granted sole custody in Virginia. Instead, the court will consider the evidence presented by the nursing mom and the child’s other parent to determine if breastfeeding is in the best interests of the child. This evidence may include:
- The age of the child and how long the child has been breastfeeding
- Information about whether the child takes a bottle or eats solid food
- Information about how feasible it is for the nursing mom to pump and provide breast milk to the other parent for the child’s feedings
- Medical studies or expert testimony showing the importance of breastfeeding for a baby’s health
- Information about the potential impact on the child if the child is to be weaned
Modifying a Child Custody Agreement When Breastfeeding Ends
At some point, breastfeeding will end, and this will likely be seen as a material change in circumstances by the court. For that reason, a child custody agreement may be modified when a child is no longer nursing or when the non-breastfeeding parent can prove that the nursing mom is breastfeeding in order to keep the current physical custody agreement in place. In order to get the child custody agreement modified, you will need to petition the court and explain the material change in circumstances.
Whether you are creating an initial child custody agreement or are seeking to modify your current child custody agreement, it is important to work with an experienced Fairfax family law attorney who can make sure that your rights are protected. Call us, or reach out to us for an initial consultation about your rights.