Judge in Custody Dispute Orders Mother to Bottle-feed Infant
There are numerous reasons why a mother might choose to nurse her infant son or daughter. Scientific studies have shown that breast milk offers several potential health and developmental benefits. Many mothers cherish the closeness with their baby and breastfeeding can also help families avoid the high cost of baby formula. Though the decision to nurse or not is usually highly personal, parents who live apart sometimes find that the breast-versus-bottle question is in the hands of a family court judge.
A Virginia mother who had been nursing her infant daughter exclusively was ordered to begin bottle-feeding in order to make visitation easier for the baby’s father. Shortly after Arleta Ramirez gave birth in July 2022, she broke up with the child’s father, Mike Ridgway. Late in November, the Prince William County judge handling their custody proceeding issued an order granting Mr. Ridgway four nights of visitation per week, including overnight stays in his home starting early the next year.
Along with the scheduling terms, the judge’s order also includes the following language: “Mother is to make every effort to place the child on a feeding schedule and use a bottle.” Mr. Ridgway had argued that his previous visits were disrupted because Ms. Ramirez needed to feed the baby frequently and was unable to express milk that he could bring to his home.
Many child custody disputes involve situations such as this where each parent has an important interest, and the judge must determine what is in the youth’s best interests. Here, the court held that the noncustodial parent’s right to uninterrupted visitation with his daughter superseded the custodial parent’s desire to use breast milk exclusively for the infant’s nourishment.
Mothers and fathers often are surprised at the sweeping power that judges have to establish parenting time arrangements. If you’re engaged in a custody proceeding that’s part of a divorce or relates to a child from a nonmarital relationship, it’s almost always best to try to settle these issues on your own.
At Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., we are insightful divorce lawyers who work with parents throughout Long Island on complex child custody matters. After a thorough review of your circumstances and your child’s needs, our attorneys can help you anticipate complications that might arise so that you are not unpleasantly surprised after the parenting time order is entered. From there, we work to negotiate a strong, but flexible, agreement that puts both parents and children in the best position to move forward in a positive matter. For a consultation regarding your custody or visitation concern, please call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.