Why are Changes Needed?
In Michigan, parents are encouraged to reach their own agreements regarding custody arrangements. When parents cannot agree, the judge must consider all of the best interest factors of the Michigan Child Custody Act. This includes “whether the child is a nursing child less than six months of age, or less than one year of age if the child receives substantial nutrition through nursing.” However, the law does not make recommendations for how the judge should rule beyond this stipulation. Child custody rulings should comply with best practices that follow the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, recommending breastfeeding until at least two years of age with continuation of breastfeeding as long as mutually desired by mother and child.
Get to Know the Campaign
The state of Michigan has a custody protection law. The Michigan Custody Parenting Law requires in family law cases the judge must consider whether a child is nursing when determining allocation of parenting time.
The law is part of the Child Custody Act of 1970. (Remember that the law does not make recommendations for how the judge should rule, only that breastfeeding must be considered.)
The law reads: MCLS § 722.27a, Parenting time.
(7) The court may consider the following factors when determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time to be granted: …
(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.
You can read more about the law here.
2019 MIBFN Child Custody Policy Positions
- Friend of the Court (FOC) should distribute evidence-based breastfeeding information and resources to families undergoing mediation.
- All Judicial and court employees and staff should receive comprehensive breastfeeding education.
- Child custody laws should protect the breastfeeding relationship for at least the first two years of life and extend for as long as breastfeeding is maintained.
- National, tiered child custody laws that take into account child development and age should be adopted.
To view the full policy position, download the position paper here.
- Do you have a story that you would like to share about considering breastfeeding during a child custody agreement?
Click here to share your story.
- Share a handout with the non-breastfeeding parent or dad (English | Spanish | Arabic | Burmese | Japanese)
- Use a customizable letter to provide to the judge about considering breastfeeding in the child custody agreement
- Utilize a customizable letter that promotes extended breastfeeding support
- View a current collection of real breastfeeding and child custody stories (English | Spanish | Arabic | Burmese | Japanese)