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Smoking could change your custody agreement

If you had a new year's resolution to quit smoking, it might be a good idea to follow through with it if you are in the midst of a divorce and fighting for custody of your children. Going through a divorce is tough enough, but now custody and visitation of your children could come into play if you are a cigarette smoker. There have been recent cases of parents that smoke losing custody privileges.

Take the case of a mother who was a smoker. After her divorce, it was found that her child had asthma and the court decided that because she was smoking in the presence of her child, they felt that she didn't have enough concern for her child's well-being, and it changed her custody arrangement. In an upstate New York case, a judge ordered a woman to stop smoking in her home and in her car if she wanted to maintain visitation rights with her 13-year-old son.

Across the United States, cigarette smoking has become a source of contention because it revolves around who could get custody of the children in a divorce. In a survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health, an anti-tobacco advocacy group, they found the following issues have been brought up concerning custody when one parent has a smoking habit.

  • Judges will not ignore the subject of tobacco smoke when it comes to child custody.
  • There have been thousands of cases where the court has ordered that a parent cannot smoke in the presence of their children, especially in the car.
  • If a parent is a smoker, there are court orders that prohibit that parent from smoking in the home 24-48 hours before a child arrives for a visit.
  • Smoking in the home by relatives can be a reason for modifying custody and visitation agreements.

This is no surprise to the advocates of this group who have been pushing their message about cigarettes and health. The best option for a parent who smokes is to quit smoking well before any legal action can be taken. This will be one less issue for you to worry about in regards to custody and visitation with your children. And, if it was your new year's resolution to quit, now you have another reason to quit the habit.

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

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