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Should breastfeeding be considered in child custody cases?

During the early months of a child's life, a parent-child bond is essential for the well-being of the child. For instance, in the infancy stages, many mothers who are able may choose to nurse their infants. However, when it comes to cases of separation or divorce between parents during this stage in an infant's life, many parents in Michigan may wonder what, if any, consideration is given to breastfeeding in child custody and parenting time disputes.

Michigan residents will find it interesting to learn that recently a judge ordered the mother of a 10-month-old infant girl to stop breastfeeding her daughter so that the father could exercise his parenting time. In this case, the father was granted overnight visitation with his daughter. According to reports the mother is angry at the judge's decision, who reportedly indicated that if she does not comply with the court order, she could lose custody of her daughter. Furthermore, the mother noted that the 10-month-old does not drink from a bottle, and even if she did, she would not be able to pump enough breast milk for the two days the child will be with the father.

Presently, when it comes to child custody, parenting time and breastfeeding issues in such matters, according to the International Lactation Consultation Association, states vary on the issue. Three states, including Michigan, have provisions in place that allow courts to consider breastfeeding when making child custody determinations, and parenting time decisions.

In Michigan, if the child is under six months of age, the court must take nursing along with the best interests of the child into consideration. Furthermore, if the child is over six months of age but less than a year, and gets substantial nutrition through nursing, then a court must take nursing into consideration in any custody and parenting time determinations.

Source: Wet Paint, "Breastfeeding Mom Ordered to Stop Because Judge Grants Ex Overnight Visits," Teddie McCormick, Nov. 13, 2013

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