Ask A Lawyer: Can Smoking Affect Child Custody?


I currently have primary placement of my two children. My ex-wife has decided to fight to regain placement. The only reason the guardian ad litem could come up with to switch placement is the fact that I smoke. She recently quit in January.

Is this a valid reason to change placement?





Yes, in particular if your daughter has a medical condition affected by smoking.  However, in Missouri and Georgia they would need to show a substantial and continuing change with regard to you or the child since the last modification.  If you smoked at the last trial the court should not consider the fact that she quit when looking at a change of circumstances.  Therefore they should not modify custody.  A change of visitation only requires that modification be in the best interests of the child.  This is a much lower standard and looks at all of the parties and the child.  Therefore, if you are smoking and she is not the court could modify the visitation schedule based on those facts.  To appear in a move positive light to the GAL, either quit smoking or at least smoke outside and avoid smoking in the car when you daughter is present. 


Spencer E. Williams is the Team Leader over St Louis, St Charles, Indianapolis and Arnold (Jefferson County, MO) offices of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. where he practices exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Mr. Williams has tried numerous cases dealing with complex custody issues, maintenance, business assets and personal asset division. 

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