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Cigarette Smoking Could Affect Child Custody Arrangements

 Posted on April 22, 2012 in Child Custody

In what has increasingly become a common issue in custody disputes, singer Melissa Etheridge has raised the issue of cigarette smoking in the battle currently being played out between Etheridge and her ex-fiancee Tammy Lynn Michaels over the former couple's five-year-old twins. According to a report in The Huffington Post, Etheridge filed documents alleging that Michaels had accidentally burned one of the children with a cigarette and is requesting that the court order both women to create a smoke-free environment for the children.

Maine was the very first state to pass a law that addressed smoking around children. In what was considered ground-breaking legislation, the law forbade foster parents from smoking or allowing others to smoke in their homes or cars. Since 2003, when that law passed, at least eighteen states have had courts rule that subjecting a child to cigarette smoke is a factor which should be considered in deciding custody. In thousands of cases, judges have issued orders that prohibit smoking around children.

Non-custodial parents have been ordered not to smoke in a home 24 to 48 hours before a child arrives for a visit. Parents have lost custody and visitation for failure to provide a smoke-free environment for their children. And even existing court orders can be modified if a child is being subjected to cigarette smoke.

In a preliminary report released by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) the organization cites Judge William F. Chinnock, a visiting judge to the Ohio Supreme Court, quote in a recent law review article that a "considered analysis of family law across the United States leads to this inescapable conclusion: a family court that does not issue court orders restraining persons from smoking in the presence of children under the court's care fails those children whom the law has entrusted to its care."

If you're involved in a custody dispute in Illinois and fear the health and welfare of your children, consult with an experienced Dupage county divorce attorney to ensure they are protected.

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