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Many judges now consider smoking in child custody decisions

As any St. Charles parent going through a divorce knows, getting custody of your children is of the utmost importance. Whether you are going for full or joint custody, you and the family court judge that will ultimately award custody are looking out for your child's well-being and his or her best interests. In order to get custody, you and your family law attorney need to demonstrate your ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment, and now many judges are taking a parent's smoking habits into consideration when making their determinations.

There has been an increase of child custody decisions across the country that included an examination of whether one or both parents smoked before custody was ultimately awarded. In some cases, parents may even lose custody or have their visitation rights limited if they are caught smoking in the presence of a child.

Thus far, courts in only 18 states have specifically said that exposure to tobacco smoke can be considered in a child custody case, but no court has ever ignored evidence of tobacco use in front of a child when deciding custody. In some cases it is not even whether a parent smokes in the presence of a child, but rather whether the parent allows someone else to smoke.

Going through a divorce is hard enough without having to prove to a judge that you are capable of caring for your own children, but child custody decisions are often decided on the littlest details. With the numerous studies and reports that have tracked the danger of second-hand smoke, judges have now started to involve parents' smoking into their decisions. Regardless of if you smoke, it is absolutely essential to have a strong family law attorney on your side while you try to get custody of your children.

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

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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