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Melissa A. Featherston

Smokers beware: growing link between child custody and smoking

Many people understand that smoking is bad for their health. It turns out it is increasingly bad for their child custody cases as well. A new survey suggests that many cases consider whether one parent smokes when making a child custody agreement.

According to the study, some judges say that tobacco use by a parent should be considered when making a child custody decision, but none of the judges said that is should be excluded from the decision making process. Although not all states have ruled on whether tobacco smoke should be considered, many judges have discretion in child custody cases.

Sometimes child custody will be granted to parents who smoke, as long as certain conditions are followed. Parents may be forbidden from smoking in a vehicle if their children are with them. Other conditions could include no smoking in the home one day or even two days before a child visits.

While many people might see this as an intrusion into a family's life, many judges have already decided on custody of children by a parent's smoking habit. Although smoking can put a person's health at risk, many parents who smoke can still make positive contributions to their child's life.

A family law attorney experienced in child custody issues can help someone determine how to best pursue child custody based on their individual case. Telling an attorney about what might seem like a small detail, such as smoking can have a big impact. Judges often look after the well being of children and will try to determine which parent will provide for the child's wellbeing.

Source: Washington Times, "Smokers losing child custody cases a growing trend," Feb. 21, 2012

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