12-17-2013 07:45 PM
I am 4.5 months pregnant with my second child. My husband and I are separated because he was an abusive, unfaithful drug addict and I could not handle the stress of dealing with his issues while being a first time mother to a newborn. We separated for good back in September, but had briefly separated in August after he was arrested for attacking me in the driveway while he was high, resulting in the neighbors calling 911. Because of the domestic violence and drug involvement, Child Protective Services became involved in our situation. Anyhow, after this incident, we briefly reconciled things and I ended up pregnant again. We are in the middle of a horrendous custody battle over our 6 month old son, and because of the stress levels and separation from my son, I had to stop breastfeeding. :-( I feel so awful feeding him formula because I know that breast feeding is perfect nutrition and formula general falls short.
Now, on to my question about how breastfeeding can affect custody...
With the baby I am carrying, I am dead-set on exclusively breast feeding and only using a breast pump when I absolutely need to (if I have an appointment or something where my parents need to keep the baby.) I firmly believe in the importance of skin to skin contact between a mother and her child, and the bonding that results from breast feeding. I do not want to jeopardize my ability to feed my child this way by my ex getting overnight visits. If at all possible, I want to limit the involvement he has with both of my children because he is truly an unfit parent: he drinks and drives, abuses pain meds regularly (and sells pills!), uses cocaine and crack whenever he needs a "fix" and he has a criminal history a mile long. He also has NO driver's license and has about 10 pending court dates for DWLR and speeding, among several other driving infractions. Also, I have charges against him from back in August when he attacked me. When it comes to his kids, he has an 8 year old son and a 5 year old daughter whom he regularly berates and calls "f*cking retarded" and "sh*thead" ... awful things like that, out of anger, that no child should be subjected to.
Needless to say, I do NOT want my babies growing up around that.
Before anyone can ask - when he and I got together, he put on a very good show and had me fully believing that he was clean. He showed no signs of any of this until literally the day after we were married and then he did a complete turn around. He even told me that "we're married now. It's not like you can just leave me because of my issues! For better or worse, b*tch."
Yeah, it was really that drastic and awful.
Anyhow, to summarize - can he do anything to prevent me from being allowed to exclusively breastfeed? He seems to think that he will be able to get the baby overnight and as much as he wants. What can I do to protect myself from this happening? I just want to provide the best for my baby, and my ex is NOT the best of anything.
12-18-2013 09:56 AM
03-25-2014 06:52 PM
The first thing you should do is get a lawyer. Like, right now. Pretty much even the crappiest lawyer should be able to get this guys parental rights SEVERELY limited because of his past criminal history, your history with him, etc. It may even be worth contacting his exes to try to make a unilateral move to restrict him from all of his children (since it's clear he doesn't treat any of them with the care they deserve) but that's a bit extreme and may be hard to coordinate for a single mom who clearly has her hands full.
Either way, the court really only ever terminates parental rights (he may or may not have to pay child support based on how this is done) over criminal history. If his is as extensive as you say and you can show evidence of his acts recently (police report, hospital report, etc), you should have a good case to have him put on limited, supervised visitation or have his rights terminated alltogether.
As for breastfeeding, most courts recognize the validity of breastfeeding so it is not uncommon to not give overnight visits to dad until 6 months if you are exclusively breastfeeding. You have every right to breastfeed since it is medically recognized to be THE BEST solution for your baby. Pretty much no court will stop you from breastfeeding exclusively. If he is given visitation or joint custody (which I would highly doubt but I suppose is technically possible), they may require you to provide breastmilk for your child to be fed but will never force you to give your baby formula.
You may STRONGLY consider asking the court to suspend any unsupervised and overnight visitation until he can show he has been a couple months (in a row) clean and/or until such time he sucessfully completes a rehab program. You could also ask that he be continually tested until such time he has remained clean for one year and if at any time he tests positive for illegal drugs, he will go back to square one with limited supervised visitation. This will give you the apperance of being fair but with your exes record, he probably won't ever meet these requirements. You should also include a clause in your custody agreement which guarentees your children to a safe smoke and illegal drug free environment and that violation of this right would be grounds for termination of parental rights. This means that if you suspect he has drugs, etc in his home, you would be able to report him to the police who could search his home (without a warrant only if he is on probation) and if he has them , you would have legitimate grounds to terminate his parental rights.
Also, discuss with your lawyer the possibility of moving out of state (if you can) to physically remove yourself from your ex so that his problems don't have to be yours anymore.
No matter what, you should get legal aid. If you're on a budget (I was with my son), try looking for someone who offers pro bono. Or just write to all your local lawyers. Include your contact name and the deatils of your case. Your case may be easy and pressing enough they may file for you for free. Inquire through local domestic abuse centers, churches, and law schools (many provide cheap legal aid) as well. Someone should be able to get you in touch with a lawyer who will actively advocate for you.
As a last note, don't let anyone put you down for being in this situation. All that matters in the end is that you have since wised up and are now fighting for your children. So many women out there don't have the courage to end it and seek help but you are doing just that. That takes a TREMENDOUS amount of strength and I applaud you for finding it to give your children a better life. Keep fighting for your children. I am sending you my best and sincerest wishes for a safe, happy, and healthy future for you and your children.
04-03-2014 10:42 AM
Oh boy! Hang in there!
I agree wit the others, it sounds like you need some legal help so you can protect you and your children.
Please keep us posted on how you are doing.