Get out of the smoke: Keep your kids away from chain-smoking parents.

Posted July 21st, 2016.

Categories: Custody Tips, Family Law.

smoking parent mark guralnick

Here’s some first-hand advice about second-hand smoke: If you smoke in the presence of your child, you’re harming you chances for custody or visitation rights. If your ex-husband or ex-spouse is a smoker, he or she is also undermining his/her access rights to the child. In fact, the Ohio Court of Common Pleas, ruled as far back as 2002, that secondhand smoke is a real and substantial danger to the health of children because it causes and aggravates serious diseases in children, and therefore, parents are restrained from allowing any person, including themselves, from smoking tobacco in the presence of a child.

In New York, a 13-year-old boy petitioned the court to enter an order prohibing his own mother from smoking around him. In Johnita M.D. vs. David D.D., the boy told the judge that his mother smoked in the bathroom, in the car, and everywhere else. He said that when he had visitations with his mother, her house smelled of smoking. The judge, not surprisingly, entered an order that the parents not smoke in the presence of the child. In another case, this one in Louisiana, the court reduced the father’s visitation time with a 20-month-old child because of the smoking at his house. In Badeaux vs. Badeaux, the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled that the child was suffering from bronchial problems that were being aggravated by tobacco smoke at the father’s residence.

About one third of the world’s adults smoke cigarettes. This represents one thousand million people. While statistics have improved in recent years, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause. In effect, one non-smoker dies from secondhand smoke for every eight smokers who die from smoking. It takes only about three weeks for smokers to kill the as many non-smokers as died in the World Trade Center tragedy on 9/11…and their second-hand smoke kills that many non-smokers every three weeks of the year.

Children are particularly susceptible to disease, and to complications of other diseases such as asthma and bronchial infections due to secondhand smoke. Today, where there are worldwide movements against smoking, and where it is increasingly difficult for smokers to find a place where they can light up, it is quite common for judges to take smoking into consideration when ruling on child custody and parenting time rights.

If you or the other parent in your case is a smoker, think twice about the extent to which the children are exposed. If not for health reasons, then for tactical legal reasons, the children should not be exposed to smoking or to the smell of smoking.

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