The decision of whether breastfeed is usually a personal and private choice, but this can become a legal matter when custody comes into play. In some states, judges will consider breastfeeding when determining custody as under their family law systems access to breast milk to be a matter related to the welfare of the child. In others, this does not play into the decision. Michigan parents facing custody issues should review the standards in their state.
Michigan is one of a few states where judges consider breastfeeding with regard to children less than a year old. There is particular emphasis on this factor for children six months old or less. This does not guarantee a mother custody of an infant, but rather gives the judge the right to consider it as a factor when allocating parenting time.
Those seeking a joint custody agreement with an infant may have trouble attaining a 50-50 split if the child is dependent on breast milk. This is due to the increased dependence on the mother. However, mothers may agree to pump milk to allow for increased time with the father should this arrangement be in the best interest of the child.
In all family law cases related to custody, the child's interests are put first by the courts and should also be put first by the parents. This may mean allocating more time to a breastfeeding mother, or it may mean finding ways to provide breast milk while in the father's custody. Whatever the case, it is important the Michigan individuals facing family law challenges like this work with an attorney to understand state laws and standards.