Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Can breastfeeding affect child custody? The Nicole Curtis case

Whether a mother chooses to breast or bottle feed is a very personal decision. No one has the right to judge what she feels is best for herself and her baby. However, a recent child custody case has people in Massachusetts and elsewhere scratching their heads, as it appears a judge may have the right to determine if, when or for how long a mother can breastfeed her child.

Many women choose to breastfeed their children through infancy and into their toddler years. It is called baby-led weaning. This allows the child to decide when he or she is done and ready to move on to other foods full time. The host of HGTV's show Rehab Addict has chosen to practice baby-led weaning, but this choice is one that may soon be taken out of her hands.

The TV star's ex-partner and father to her nearly 3-year-old son has been fighting for custody since the child was 6 months old. When a custody arrangement was initially reached, Nicole Curtis was shocked that she would no longer have the right to breastfeed her child during her ex's visitation time. Up until this point, the child had been breastfed exclusively. As Ms. Curtis feared that her milk supply would diminish should she not be able to feed her child when needed, she has continued fighting for the right to breastfeed regardless of the custody order and has, so far, been successful.

Now that the child is almost 3, his father is claiming that the mother's right to breastfeed is interfering with his right to access his son. He is asking a judge to consider this and update the custody arrangement. There is a lot of gray area around this topic, though. A judge will have to look at a number of factors before deciding what would better serve the child's best interests -- breastfeeding or more time with his father.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of things that can affect a child custody order. Yes, breastfeeding is one of them. Fathers and mothers in Massachusetts have the right to fight for what they feel is best for their young children and can do so with legal assistance.

Source:, "Can A Court Order A Mom To Stop Breastfeeding?", Corynne Cirilli, Nov. 14, 2017

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