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Obesity Increasingly a Factor in Child Custody Cases

December 2, 2011 | Posted In Resources - Family Law |

New Jersey family lawyers encounter accusations of all kinds during child custody conflicts.  One issue that is increasingly arising is childhood obesity.  Parents making claims that the custodial parent is allowing the child to become obese by neglecting his or her nutrition needs. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports that this trend is on the rise throughout the country. 

In some cases, the noncustodial parent wants reversal of the custodial situation because the child's weight has been increasing.  Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes obesity in many of these cases and little precedent to help address the question. However, New Jersey family lawyers don't believe that a child custody situation will be impacted in cases where a child simply gained a few pounds.  The situation could, however, be different if the weight increase was dramatic or if the weight gain caused drastic changes in the child's health.

In addition to petitions to reverse custody arrangements, parents and noncustodial parents have also been using lifestyle choices made by the custodial parent, such as a lack of exercise and failure to provide nutritional food, to support the allegation that the custodial parent does not have the child's best interests at heart.  Some parents also support their allegations by citing the child's discomfort and trauma resulting from mockery at school based on weight issues. 

It’s fairly common to have parental lifestyle and health choices such as smoking, featuring prominently in child custody conflicts.  However, with child obesity now a national epidemic in the United States, it is likely that more parents will continue to focus on this aspect of a child’s physical well being as well.

The New Jersey family lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons in divorce, child custody, child support, domestic violence and other family law-related issues across New Jersey.


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