Newborn human babies are evolutionary throwbacks. Helpless, unable to walk or run after birth, and cognitively stunted due to limited brain size (according to Scientific American), human babies vividly demonstrate the biological battle between mom’s pelvic size and a baby’s big head. So who is better equipped to take custody of a newborn human? Mom, or Dad?
Look to The Asses
Donkeys, or asses, are excellent mothers. They nurse their foals for six months after birth, almost as if they are following the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP’s) guidelines for nursing human mothers, which also stipulate six months of breast milk.
But that does not mean donkey foals are firmly attached to their jenny moms the entire six months. And human babies do not need to be at their mothers’ breasts continually, either.
So the argument often presented by attorneys for mothers of newborns (that the baby must remain with Mom for at least a year or two or ten or 18) is not realistic.
Breast milk can be expressed by the mother, stored, and delivered by the father as needed. It only requires the parents to cooperate in the best interests of the child.
And How About Those Boobies
By boobies we refer, of course, to the fabulous Blue-Footed Boobies of North and South America (ya filthy pervs!). Blue-footed boobies (BFBs) of both sexes are always showing off their feet (and wouldn’t you, if your feet were enormous and bright blue?) but neither gender is an especially good parent.
Female BFBs fool around; male BFBs are so insecure they sometimes destroy their own egg if they question the parentage of said egg in their own nest.
Don’t be a BFB. Your baby’s mother can provide nutritious breast milk (by far the healthiest option for a newborn human). You can provide a safe nest — er, home — for your newborn. If you two work together, you can split custody of your newborn baby.
The male emperor penguin wins the “Best Dad” ribbon every time. That’s because these guys stand in -40 degree cold (it’s the same temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit) in Antarctica in winter.
For two months.
With their single egg on their feet.
Mom Emperor penguin and Dad emperor penguin split custody of their baby. Mom starts things off (of course; the birds and the bees, remember?) while Dad eats his fill.
Then Dad takes over and Mom rushes off to the inviting, frigid waters around Antarctica to eat her fill. They repeat this rotating duty up to six times before Junior is ready to fledge.
You, too, could win “Best Dad” if you consider the benefits of joint custody of your newborn. You and your attorney work with the newborn’s mother and her attorney to arrange for both of you to share the parenting.
Custody in Virginia
In Virginia, custody takes on two primary forms:
- Physical custody — where the newborn will lay her or his little head every night
- Legal custody — which parent will make legal, medical, educational, and religious decisions in the best interests of the child
Most Virginia courts have long abandoned the knee-jerk reaction to make the birth mother the default custodial parent. It is no longer a precept in Code of Virginia; most of society recognizes that fathers can be excellent parents.
Within physical custody are several options:
- Sole custody — The newborn lives nearly all the time with one custodial parent and parenting time visitation keeps the other parent engaged
- Shared custody — This most often refers to sharing the newborn’s physical custody, close to fifty percent of the time with Mom and fifty percent with Dad
- Joint custody — This generally refers to arrangements where one parent has sole legal custody and the physical custody is shared but may not be 50/50
The Circuit Court, in determining custody and visitation, will follow Virginia Code § 20-124.3 to determine what custody arrangement is in the “best interests of the child.” While sole physical custody of a newborn may be a stretch, joint, split, or shared custody is entirely feasible.
Your attorney can present plenty of expert evidence that you, the Dad, can nurture a newborn with a little assist from the birth mother (since you as a Virginia man do not, we assume, produce breast milk).
Nope; no animal exists named the yabut. We are anticipating your objection to this whole joint custody thing:
- Yeah, but what if the birth mother is incapacitated or unfit?
Again, the court will always come to the problem from a position of finding what is in the best interests of the child. An incarcerated, incapacitated, or addicted birth mother would probably not be capable of nurturing a newborn.
Your family law attorney could reasonably assert that, absent a fit mother, you as the father could get sole physical custody.
The Firm For Men focuses on helping Virginia’s men protect their rights, their finances, and their children’s rights. Please contact us today or telephone our beautiful Virginia Beach offices at (757) 383-9184 to speak with one of our family law attorneys. We can help with child custody, parenting time, child support, and much more.