County Judge Ronald E. Reagan said the child does not understand Spanish, and her father should speak to her in the language she knows.
Eloy Amador, who was released from jail seven months ago after serving a five-year sentence for drug possession, told the judge that he spoke Spanish to the girl to share his culture, not to force a language on her.
"I don't come to her speaking in Spanish, but there are times where I try to teach her what hair is in Spanish, what hand is, stuff like that," Amador said during a Sept. 15 hearing on visitation.
The judge did not oppose such instruction, but said the rest of the communication should be in English for the sake of the girl's education.
"The principal form of communication during the periods of visitation is going to be English," Reagan said. "That does not mean that you can't instruct and teach her the Hispanic language."
The ruling is a victory for the girl's mother, Michaela Krayneski, who requested that Amador speak English as a condition of visitation.
Calls to Krayneski's lawyer were not returned Tuesday.
Amador's attorney, John Allen Sellers, said he was surprised that the judge "would consider a restraint such as this based on racial or cultural differences of the parents."
By Jean Ortiz