Florida Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, has introduced SB 250 entitled “Family Law Reform.” If passed, this legislation would significantly alter Florida’s long-standing child time-sharing statutes, and impose a legal presumption of 50/50 child-time splitting upon divorced Florida families unless successfully challenged through costly and complex litigation.
The Florida Breastfeeding Coalition (FBC), a statewide coalition of clinical experts in pediatrics, obstetrics and lactation, believes that it is important that Floridians know the concerns about the long-term implications of SB 250 and bills like it on the health and wellness of women, infants and children.
The FBC supports the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations of exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced for one year or longer. Compliance with a legislated 50/50 time-sharing premise compromises a mother’s ability to meet such vital recommendations.
Clinically, breastfeeding provides protective factors for mothers and infants by promoting positive attachment behaviors that reduce risks of maternal post-partum depression and infant attachment disorder. The practice also enhances cognitive development and infant immunity to communicable diseases.
It is well known and documented that parental separation is independently associated with at-risk behaviors regarding the child’s health. Mediating these implications is already considered with Florida law that rules time-sharing based on the needs and best interest of the child without a mandated 50/50 time sharing provision. Consequently, the FBC opposes mandatory time-sharing presumptions that threaten protective factors of exclusive breastfeeding.
No other state in the United States presumes 50/50 time sharing. Florida would become the first if a bill like SB 250 becomes law. In Australia, where such time-sharing implications have been implemented, breastfeeding mothers experienced inconsistent advice from all facets of legal services, including opinions about the inappropriateness of breastfeeding for infants over 6 months of age.
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