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Caution: Cigarette smoking may hurt your child custody case

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Do you smoke cigarettes? Are you trying to kick the habit? Illinois tobacco lovers have probably already heard about the health risks associated with smoking. However, did you know that as a smoker, you could potentially lose your kids in a child custody dispute? This is one risk that might make quitting look more appealing.

According to reports, states are increasingly factoring in parents' smoking habits into child custody decisions. The group Action on Smoking and Health examined custody issues involving tobacco use:

  • In at least 18 states, courts have ruled that exposing a child to tobacco smoke is a factor that should be considered in deciding custody.
  • Many courts have mandated that parents do not smoke in the presence of a child.
  • In making a custody decision, some courts have considered the smoking habits of those that have regular contact with the child. These people include grandparents and significant others.

Sources explain that secondhand smoke's effects are a justifiable concern. If a child suffers from respiratory problems to begin with, courts are especially sensitive.

As a parent, you can try to quit your tobacco use prior to a custody case. However, Judges are skeptical about whether a parent might start smoking again once the case is over. So, if you are a smoker, the article suggests puffing outdoors and not allowing others to smoke in the presence of your children. These efforts may help your case.

Ultimately, a judge could consider a number of factors in a child custody dispute. Therefore, you may want to speak to a well-informed attorney about your case.

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

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