Custody cases involving infants are somewhat complicated by nature. On one hand, the baby may need more access to its mother for breastfeeding. On the other hand, fathers have the right to frequent visits in order to bond with their children from birth regardless of their relationship status with the mother. So, what's the best way to handle an infant custody agreement? That depends on a variety of factors.
Infant Custody: Parent Relationships
Ideally, divorced parents should be able to communicate with one another positively and proactively about custody and parenting issues. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. If both parents get along, the process of deciding on the best newborn custody arrangement can be rather simple. You can work on a joint parenting plan that would allow both the mother and father to spend time with the baby.
If matters with the other parent are contentious, you should consult a family law attorney. The legal advisor can act as a mediator and listen to each party’s requirements. Then they can create a mutually acceptable custody agreement and make any other legal arrangements on your behalf, especially if those require court appearances.
However, it’s always best to attempt cordial resolution when younger children are involved. That’s why we always advise parents to try and find common grounds outside the courtroom by working out a custody and visitation plan outside the courtroom.
What a Parenting Plan for an Infant Should Include
The first most contested parenting plan item among parents are visitation schedules. Typically, younger babies should not be put under the pressure of changing homes or being taken away from the custodial parent for long periods. After all, separation anxiety from a primary caregiver is very real. That’s why a non-custodial parent should at first settle for more frequent, but less lengthy visits to act in the interest of the child. Over time, this arrangement can be modified, as the child grows and becomes more comfortable with the non-custodial parent.
The second major aspect of your parenting plan should talk through joint expenses and decision-making. If both parents want to take an active part in the child’s upbringing, they’ll have to establish some ground rules for collaborating.
Below is a sample parenting plan for an infant that you can use as a reference for creating your personal version. Keep in mind that this plan should be flexible and can be modified as the child matures.
Sample Custody Agreement for an Infant: What to Cover
Parenting Schedule & Changes:
- Non-custodial parent’s visitation schedule based on the infant’s daily routine.
- Calendar visitation days and hours.
- Planned overnight visits.
- Visitation arrangements during holidays.
- Right of first refusal.
- Location of custody swaps.
- Decide how you will inform one other on changes in the established schedule.
- Establish required days' notice for requesting non-emergency changes.
Provisions for Extended Family Visitations
- Determine a location for extended family visits.
- Agree on a timetable for giving the non-custodial parent more custody time.
- Determine how holiday time with extended family will be handled.
- Create a health and safety agreement, including whether extended family visits will be allowed with unvaccinated family members.
- How will medical decisions be made? Who gets the final say?
- Who will attend medical appointments?
- Ensure that both parents have access to medical information.
- Agree on how major child care decisions will be approved.
Shared Expenses and Support
- Determine the amount and frequency of child support.
- How will incidental expenses be divided?
- Health insurance costs.
- Gas and travel costs for visitation.
- Claiming the infant as a dependent for taxes or benefits.
Communication Between Parents
- Method of communication (email, phone, text, through attorneys).
- Frequency of communication.
- When to involve mediation over disputes.
- Keeping a record of communication.
You can even download the sample custody agreement on the Colorado Judicial Branch website to start documenting all of these considerations into a full co-parenting plan.
Child custody plans for very young children can be more complicated than plans for older children. Infants simply are far more dependent on their primary caretaker. Yet the non-custodial parent who wants significant involvement in that infant's life must have that right. If you feel that the other parent denies you that right, it's best to consult with an attorney early on! Our team in Colorado has many years of experience to best help you!