How does breastfeeding affect the parenting time of the noncustodial parent in a SD divorce?
South Dakota Parenting Guidelines govern many aspects of parenting time and raising children when the parents are divorced or were never married. It recognizes that it is important for children, in general, to have both parents in their lives. It can be very challenging to schedule a parenting time routine when the parents separate before or shortly after the birth of a child. This can be even more difficult if the mother is breastfeeding the baby.
How Should Parenting Time Be Scheduled When the Mother Is Breastfeeding a Baby?
The Parenting Guidelines offer specific guidance on how parenting time of children under five years old should be divided. For example, the guidelines allow babies from zero to three months old to spend three, two-hour periods during the week and one, six-hour period on the weekend with their fathers. It also recognizes that a breastfeeding child has special needs, and the child's sleep, eating, and waking routine should not be disrupted.
However, the guidelines acknowledge the importance of the child spending time with both parents. These rules could apply:
- Babies being exclusively breastfed can still spend significant amounts of time with their fathers. The amount of time will be dictated by the child's breastfeeding schedule, with the time increasing as they get older. However, if the parents already have a caregiving schedule, such as the father keeping the baby overnight while the mother works, this schedule should be maintained if it is working well to not disrupt the child's schedule.
- A mother may not use her breastfeeding as a way to deprive the father of his parenting time. The father is also entitled to the same accommodations as other caregivers. For example, if a day care provider is provided with breastmilk in a bottle, the father should be provided with the same opportunity if he is capable of providing this level of care.
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