Child custody and visitation issues are complicated components of any divorce proceeding. These issues become more complicated when infants are involved. Very young children may need to stay close to the mother in order to be fed appropriately and may not recognise non-custodial parents if they are not around them often enough. The court sets up a custody and visitation agreement intended to protect the infant's best interests, but parents must determine a schedule that is fair to both parents and meets the infant's needs.
Custody of Infants
In the majority of cases, custody of infant children is awarded to mothers after a divorce. Many infants are breastfed, which is not an option if the infant lives with only the male caretaker. Thus, infants often live with their mothers to ensure their feeding cycle is not disrupted. The court may grant the father the right to visit his infant in these cases.
Reasonable Visitation Schedule
There are no set laws to determine how long a visit the father may have with an infant and every visitation order spells out different terms. Parents should work out a reasonable visitation schedule in line with the court order. If visits occur outside of the mother's presence, they should be kept short so that the child is not distressed over the separation. However, newborns and very young children should see the father frequently so that they learn to recognise his face. Visits should also occur at both parents' homes so the child can learn to be comfortable in both settings.
Children of any age may be allowed to stay overnight with a non-custodial parent as there are no laws mandating a minimum age for overnight visits. However, overnight visits are not usually recommended for infants. They need to be fed on schedule and become upset when separated from the mother for long periods of time. Some parents begin with short visits and lengthening the visits as the infant grows older.
Contact Information Requirements
The infant's mother is required to give the father her current address and phone number and give him updated information if her living situation changes. This ensures that neither parent is cheated out of court-ordered visitation with the infant due to the other parent blocking him from contact. If one parent feels harassed by the other, such as the non-custodial parent frequently dropping by unannounced to "check on the child", that parent can move and petition the court to share phone numbers only or to restrain the other parent from non-permitted visits.