When a soon to be ex has a newborn child a Michigan divorce or Michigan child custody case can become more complicated, especially when the mother is breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding and the Tender Years doctrine
The Tender Years Doctrine is a legal principle from old English Common Law. The doctrine presumed that a child’s “tender years” would be spent with its mother. However, the doctrine is no longer relevant in contemporary society and most states (including Michigan) have abolished the doctrine for good reason.
Breastfeeding and Attachment theory
Attachment theory is a popular psychological model that provides attachments between a child of tender years (e.g. breastfeeding) develops deep and enduring emotional bonds and impacts behaviors in a child who seeks close proximity to the attachment figure (e.g. a breastfeeding mother).
Many mothers produce the most milk first thing in the morning and utilize a pump to store breastmilk for nursing later in the day. Pumping technology has allowed many fathers to exercise parenting time while providing their child with stored breastmilk, eliminating the necessity to breastfeed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a combination of breastfeeding for the first six months after birth. After 6 months, the Academy of Pediatrics recommends a combination of solid foods and breast milk until the infant is 1 year old. (Source: KidsHealth from Nemours. (2014). Weaning your child. Retrieved May 30, 2018)
So the simple answer to the question does breastfeeding effect child custody? Is Yes. However, with the use of a pump to store breast milk and the introduction of solid foods after the first 6 months the effect can be minimized. Even if a mother is unable or refuses to pump or store breastmilk, attachments can be maintained by frequent parenting time for several hours during the day until such time as the infant begins being weaned from breastmilk.
If parents cannot agree on custody or parenting time, we can help.
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By: Daniel Findling