Infants who are breastfeeding must be fed several times a day, requiring mothers to stay near their children. Although breast milk may be refrigerated or even frozen for overnight visits with an ex-spouse, long visits are usually not recommended until the baby is weaned.
Infants form an emotional attachment with their caregivers in the first year of life, and passing from one environment to another can make this process more difficult for a child. One University of Virginia study of 5,000 infants and toddlers discovered that joint custody arrangements had a negative impact on attachment with both parents, while primary custody and visitation was more likely to result in a strong parental bond.
Even if primary custody is granted to the mother of a small child initially, fathers retain their visitation rights to an infant and can seek changes to the custody arrangement once the child is older. It is in both parents’ best interests to respect visitation orders, since multiple denials of visitation in Rhode Island can result in changing placement of the minor child with the non-custodial parent.
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