Separation and Divorce

Rights of the Father Whose Child is Breastfeeding


Sometimes parents separate while their child is still breastfeeding. How much time should each parent be with the child? Situations like this can be complicated. If the parents ask a judge to decide the issue, how will the judge weigh the fact that the child is still breastfeeding?

Basic Rule: Best Interests of the Breastfed Child

Breastfeeding alone is not a good enough reason to deny a father time with a child. Therefore, a judge will consider breastfeeding as one factor among many.

A judge will evaluate the best interests of the child when deciding how much time each parent can spend with the child.

How Judges Consider Breastfeeding

Judges usually consider these factors:

  • What is each parent’s opinion on breastfeeding and weaning off breastfeeding?
  • Was the decision to continue breastfeeding taken by the mother alone or by both parents?
  • Does weaning involve risks or serious disadvantages to the child?
  • Is the mother trying to make it easy for the father to visit with the child?
  • How old is the child, and what is the child’s relationship with each parent?

In many situations, the father’s visiting rights will increase over time and be adapted to suit the child’s pace.

A judge cannot require the mother to pump her milk so the father can spend more time with the child. A judge can, however, decide when the father can see the child, which means the mother will have to adjust her breastfeeding schedule.