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Tobacco users experience an uphill battle in child custody cases

Are you a habitual tobacco user? Illinois smokers are probably familiar with the various risks associated with the use of cigarettes. However, did you know that as a smoker, you could potentially lose your kids in a child custody dispute?

An article explains that states are considering parents' smoking habits in child custody decisions. An antismoking organization surveyed custody issues involving tobacco use. The group made the following findings:

  • In at least 18 states, courts have ruled that subjecting a child to tobacco smoke is a factor that should be regarded in deciding custody.
  • In making a decision, some courts have considered the smoking habits of those that have regular contact with the child. This might include friends, significant others or grandparents.
  • In some cases, court orders have barred smoking in a home 24 to 48 hours before the child is present.

Authorities say that the effect of secondhand smoke is a legitimate concern. Furthermore, if a child already suffers from breathing problems, courts are especially sensitive to this.

A smoker could attempt to quit before a child custody proceeding; however, a judge will probably question whether a parent might start smoking once the case is over. Therefore, if you are a smoker, the article suggests puffing away outdoors. Also, do not let others smoke in the presence of your children.

Judges consider many factors when evaluating a child custody case. Smoking is just one issue. As a result, you may want to speak to an attorney about your case. He or she can inform you about the things that a judge will take into account in evaluating your fitness as a parent.

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

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