Colorado Child Support and Custody Laws - Cigarettes and Child Custody
Cigarettes and Child Custody – A Hazardous Combination
For years, we have known that cigarette smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death in this country. Now, increasing evidence is showing that second-hand smoke from cigarettes also poses a threat to others in its wake – including children. In fact, courts around the nation are beginning to consider these hazards in making custody decisions.
Second-hand smoke, also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is scientifically proven to cause a whole host of health problems in children. Recent studies show that children of smokers have higher rates of asthma, pneumonia, inner ear infections and, in the case of infants, higher incidents of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. In fact, experts believe that second-hand smoke causes 3,000 deaths of non-smokers each and every year.
In most states, family law judges are required to consider any factors that affect “the best interests” of the child. It is for this reason that a Tennessee court barred a father from visiting his child until he could prove that he had ceased smoking. In that case, the child’s winter sinus and allergy problems were exacerbated by the father’s passive smoke. And, in a recent Ohio case, a judge ordered that both parents of an 8-year old girl prevent anyone from smoking around the child, rejecting arguments from the mother that such a bar would harm her relationship with her live-in boyfriend.
At least 15 states and 1 Canadian province have now produced orders where cigarette smoking was an important factor in a child custody determination.
Therefore, it is wise for all parents who are involved in child custody cases to make sure that they are doing all they can to protect their children from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke – not only for the sake of their children, but because their parental rights could depend upon it.
By Richard A. Harris, The Harris Law Firm, P.C.
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