One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce is deciding how to split time with the children. In many cases, neither parent likes the idea of having to spend a significant time away from the children. It is important to come up with an agreement that works best for the children involved, rather than the parents, especially when it comes to the custody and visitation for an infant.
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The first question to answer is who will have custody of the child. In many states, joint legal custody is always presumed to be in the child's best interests, which means both parents have equal rights to make decisions and access records. When children are older, many states also grant joint physical custody, which refers to where the child lives. According to the parenting time guidelines of many states, in the case of an infant, it is important for the bond with the primary caregiver to continue. However, if the other parent is available more often to watch the infant, he may get more time to avoid putting the infant in day care. Courts prefer for any child to be in the care of a parent at all times if possible.
Visitation While Breastfeeding
Some mothers choose to breastfeed their infants. These infants must eat more frequently and need their mother to eat. Some mothers are able to pump so the father can bottle feed the infant, but some infants will not take a bottle. While the infant is breastfeeding, it is important that the visitation takes place with the mother nearby or for shorter periods of time. Many breastfed babies must eat every two to three hours, so there is not much time to spend with the infant in between feedings.
The frequency of visitation for an infant is typically more often than that of older children. Because an infant's memory is shorter, he will more quickly forget his other parent if there is too much time between visits. This can cause extra stress on the infant and create a higher likelihood of separation anxiety. When the other parent spends a few hours at a time several times a week with the infant, he becomes bonded to this other parent in addition to his primary caregiver. The key is to create a bond between the infant and both parents. For example, in Indiana, it is not recommended that an infant go more than two days without seeing the other parent, so the non-custodial parent is given three visits of two hours each during the week and two hours on all holidays.
Length of Visits
While a breastfed infant must be fed by her mother every two or three hours, a formula-fed infant can go three to four hours between feedings. However, even with the longer period of time between feedings and the ability of the father to feed the infant just as easily as the mother, the length of the visits should be shorter, according to Woman's Divorce. This is especially true when the infant is still a newborn. The older the infant gets, the more time they can spend together. According to the Vermont Bar Journal, some states do not recommend overnight visits for infants, though others think they are beneficial. Others, such as Indiana, allow overnights for infants as long as both parents are capable of caring for the infant.
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- Woman's Divorce; Child Visitation Rights; Brette Sember
- Woman's Divorce; Child Custody and Visitation Schedules; Tracy Achen; 2001
- The Vermont Bar Journal; Overnight Visitation for Infants and Toddlers: Implications for Parenting Plans; Eric G. Mahrt, PhD, ABPP; 2009
- Free Legal Advice Help: Visitation Schedule for Infant
- Indiana Courts: Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines