Your Miami Child Custody Lawyers bring you their latest thoughts:
Reportedly, parents in Saudi Arabia who smoke cigarettes may lose custody of their children after divorce since the law was recently changed there to allow courts to consider the health risks involved in allowing children to reside with smoking parents. While there is no law in Florida that expressly and specifically addresses cigarette smoke when it comes to child custody determinations, smoking parents should be aware of how a court may factor this health risk into a timesharing or child custody matter.
The Florida Statutes are devoid of any specific mention of cigarette smoking, but consider that reported Florida cases have mentioned it with regard to child custody matters. See Thomas v. Harris, 634 So.2d 1136 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994) and Moody v. Moody, 721 So.2d 731 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998). Although no specific reported ruling from a Florida court can be found that effectively considers smoking in a custody determination, smoking parents should consider the following factors mentioned in Florida Statute §61.13 that a court can use to establish parental responsibility and create a parenting plan which includes timesharing:
• The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
When we consider a child who has asthma or any other health issue exacerbated by smoking, a court will use this factor to determine if a parent is acting in a child's best interest. A parent who continues to smoke around a child who has health issues will likely be found by the court to be acting upon the parent's desires rather than upon the child's needs.
• The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
While cigarettes are not illegal, neither is alcohol and alcohol abuse is a factor a court will strongly consider in awarding timesharing. Just as alcohol may impair a parent's ability to care for a child, smoking cigarettes may hamper that ability if the smoking is causing health issues for the child.
• Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
With this catchall factor, the court can consider a parent's smoking in creating a parenting plan or timesharing schedule. How smoking affects a child is certainly relevant to the court's determination of the child's best interest, which is of paramount consideration in all matters involving children.
If you need help to quit smoking, visit http://www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/ which offers three, free easy ways to quit on its homepage. If you are facing a Miami child custody matter, contact Vari Law for a consultation. We want to help you create a healthy environment for yourself and for your children.