Does breastfeeding effect child custody?

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.

About Findling Law

Findling Law, PLC – 414 W. 5th St. Royal Oak, Michigan 48067

Phone:+1 (248) 399-3300
After hours emergency?+1 (707) 968-7347


I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades.  The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We are compassionate, creative and always prepared. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

By:  Daniel Findling

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