I read a story recently about a woman and her estranged husband divorcing (see source link above). This story does NOT have any domestic abuse, as far as I know. It deals with child custody, specifically with an infant who is breastfed. The court gave four days of visitation (with overnights), per week, to the father. The court ordered a provision where “the mother is to make every effort to place the child on a feeding schedule and to use a bottle.” I hate this from the standpoint that the court is dictating that the child’s best interest is not their interest (unlike DCS court cases) and telling this woman what she could do. Their previous two children were breastfed, so this should be no surprise to the father.
The ex-spouse’s lawyer, Tara Steinnerd, even went on to make a statement that the woman is trying to “salvage a relationship that is over and is ‘using breastfeeding as a weapon against visitation’.” I find that a very sexist and charged statement, especially from a woman attorney.”
Now, this is where my commentary comes into play. I could see this particular ruling playing into a power and control dynamic in a domestic abuse situation. Not only is this controlling the time with the child, but the lack of breastfeeding/pumping can hurt the baby’s mother and cause her pain and possible infection. The provision states that formula could be used, if necessary. This is a travesty and yet another illustration on how the court is alienating a mother’s rights and what’s best for the child.
This court just set a destructive precedent, folks. Be afraid and don’t be surprised by this, at all. Men and women both have stigmas against breastfeeding, while breastfeeding mamas do have fundamental rights. Kind of negates the pro-life stance, doesn’t it?
Personally, I think if this was my situation, I would petition the court to state that pumped milk be used and that I got to pick out the bottles, with a 30 to 60 day adjustment period — still stating that I was not trying to deny the father visitation. The article read like a divorce power-play, to be honest. It was disgusting. Co-parenting is about time with each parent, but it is also about what’s best for the child. How dare the attorneys talk about this being a co-parenting case. And, hey, what about the other two children??? My prayers are for the kids and the mother. I also want to know how bad her attorney was to not conduct this entire custody situation better?