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Smoking raised far more than previously in child custody matters

The author of a recent article that discusses smoking makes a comment that only half facetiously suggests adding a warning such as the following to the host of others that already appear on the sides of cigarette packs: Smoking may cause loss of children in a child custody dispute.

We have informed our readers in prior blog posts of some growing trends in divorce, child custody and other family law matters, such as the expanding evidentiary role now being played by Facebook and other online social media sites in some instances. We have mentioned how some courts are beginning to look at obesity as a factor to consider in custody matters.

And now, there is smoking, which is actually one of the least controversial of all factors that courts are considering in increasingly more instances when making or changing custody arrangements.

There is certainly precedent for doing so. A New York judge recently ordered a woman to cease smoking at home and in her vehicle as a condition for keeping her visitation rights to her son intact. A Georgia court ruled more than a decade ago that a change in custody was required owing to a child's asthmatic condition exacerbated by her mother's smoking.

An anti-smoking advocacy group that has surveyed tobacco-related custody issues says that courts in many states now consider smoking as a factor in custody matters. The group Action on Smoking and Health also states that there has never been an instance in the country where a court has ruled that smoking around a child should be excluded as a factor in deciding custody.

Given the well-documented dangers associated with smoking, including second-hand smoke, along with the changing national mood of millions of people toward tobacco companies and smoking in recent years, it is reasonably likely that smoking will become more -- not less -- of a factor in child custody cases going forward.

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

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