Cigarette smoking is become an increasingly prominent factor in Florida child custody disputes. More and more, when one parent involved in a child custody disagreement is a smoker their chances of gaining full custody, and sometimes even their chances of gaining joint custody, are dramatically decreased.
In the past, no judge or court ignored the influence of a parent that smokes cigarettes on a child in custody agreements. Now, however, the factor of tobacco smoke is becoming a legitimate and heavily considered factor in deciding which parent can provide a living environment that is in the best interest of the child.
Florida parents are likely already aware of the dangers of smoking to their own health, as well as the dangers of second-hand smoke to others around them. It is also important to understand that smoking may play a large part in the settlement of child custody litigation. And in some cases, child custody terms are re-evaluated when it appears a parent is placing their child in a dangerous health environment due to cigarette smoking. This is particularly a concern when the child exhibits any sort of respiratory issues that are exacerbated in the presence of second-hand smoke.
Some courts require parents to quit smoking several days or weeks in advance of the arrival of a child in their home, and some may require quitting completely to maintain, or regain, partial or full child custody. It doesn't hurt to quit smoking with the knowledge that the process of settling custody is on the horizon, but often courts are not convinced that the parent will remain smoke-free after a custody determination is made. Florida parents in this situation would benefit from being well aware of the weight their smoking habits may have concerning their custody rights, and may want to take steps to address any issues that may arise in future court proceedings.
Source: The Washington Times, "Smokers losing child custody cases a growing trend," Myra Fleischer, Feb. 21, 2012