Should Breastfeeding be Considered in Child Custody Cases in Michigan?

Should Breastfeeding be Considered in Child Custody Cases in Michigan?

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.

There have been many instances where breastfeeding has been brought before a court as a case factor. As an example, a judge once 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. 

This is just one example of a child custody case where nursing mothers disagreed with the results of their case. What are the breastfeeding laws in Michigan? And how will they affect your child support case?

Michigan Breastfeeding Laws in Child Support Cases

Michigan Breastfeeding Network continually educates parents on the benefits to children when legal factors support breastfeeding. They explain the many reasons that breastfeeding is an integral part of a child’s beginning. Being that child custody, support, and visitation decisions are based on what is in the best interest of the child.

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 decided shared custody determinations and parenting time decisions. These are listed in the Child Custody Act of 1970. 

“The court may consider the following factors when determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time to be granted: (a) The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child. (b) Whether the child is a nursing child less than 6 months of age, or less than 1 year of age if the child receives substantial nutrition through nursing.”

As Michigan legislature states, 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, suppose the child is over six months of age but less than a year, and gets substantial nutrition through nursing. In that case, a court must take nursing into consideration in any custody and parenting time determinations. It’s obvious that the breastfeeding relationship is important and needs to be factored into custodial time. Other laws and legislation have also been put into effect surrounding nursing mothers. 

Other Laws Around Nursing Mothers

Nationally, there are protections for breastfeeding through the affordable care act. Michigan breastfeeding law clearly outlines the expectations around breastfeeding in public places and at work. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act outlines requirements for employers when having mothers as employees. 

There are clear biological reasons that mothers need to express breast milk regularly, and this may require additional bread time. For one year after the birth of a child, they must allow time for an employee to express breast milk. They also must have a private space for this to occur, even providing compensation for longer periods. 

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

Recent Posts