California’s child custody laws don’t differentiate by the child’s age other than to allow older teens some say in where they live. When it comes to babies, the court will base custody decisions on what they believe is in the best interest of the child. As the infant’s mother, if you believe that means that the baby should stay with you full time, you will have to make a case for that before the judge.
What the Judge Will Consider in Making a Decision
Marriages split up for any number of reasons, and a break-up can happen at any time. It is not uncommon for a pregnancy to be a factor in a divorce, which means it’s not unusual for divorcing couples to have a newborn. Whatever the situation is in your divorce, if the father wants to be involved in the baby’s life, he will likely ask for joint custody, even if he is not capable of providing the kind of care a newborn requires. The father’s divorce attorney might advise him to seek shared custody now to avoid having to change the order when the child is older. However, as the mother of a newborn, you can argue that it is in the baby’s best interest to be with you full time, especially if:
- You are breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mother needs to be with her newborn around the clock. Pumping and storing breastmilk is not always possible, and some breastfed babies will not take to a bottle easily. For at least the first several months, you should have full-time custody of the baby.
- You are on maternity leave or quitting your job to stay with the baby. Whether you are on a 12-week maternity leave or have decided to stay home with your baby for several years, your commitment to caring for the baby should be made clear to the judge.
- The father cannot provide adequate care. Dividing a household and setting up two homes with baby equipment will not be easy. In addition, if your ex-husband does not have paternity leave and cannot be home to care for the baby, he should not have joint custody.
- You have no other children. If there are older children in the family, and your ex-husband has experience with newborns, you might feel better about sharing custody. If this is his first child, however, you could argue that he is not prepared to provide the kind of care a newborn requires.
Your ex-husband has a right to be a part of his child’s life. If he is serious about spending time with the baby, working out a visitation routine that fits into your schedule is the best way to manage the situation while the child is an infant. This can be accomplished outside of court if both parties are willing to negotiate.
Nathan Law Offices Only Represents Women in Divorce
As divorce attorneys who only represent women, we understand your desire to have full custody of your newborn baby. Whether through mediation or in court, we will do our best to get the custody arrangement you need to provide your baby with the best possible start in life. Contact our Marin County office today.