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The growing influence of weight on child custody cases

The role of obesity in child custody cases has grown as the American public has become more conscious of the health dangers associated with being overweight and obese.

Practitioners of family law have seen the issue of a child's weight used against one parent in an effort to persuade the judge on custody, and the issue of a parent's weight has been used to argue that the overweight parent is not able to properly care for a child at issue. As weight becomes a greater societal concern it may become a bigger concern in family law court in Texas and elsewhere.

In one child custody case where weight and diet was a factor, the judge ruled in favor of switching child custody. The diet of the child at issue primarily consisted of meals from fast-food restaurants, and the child's weight was in the 95th percentile for his age. Weight; however, was not the only factor. Further evidence showed the child had not received proper medical care, lacked vaccinations and was not performing well at school.

One family-law practitioner has seen weight as a factor in child custody cases in different ways. He said, "Typically, one parent is accusing the other of putting a child at risk of developing diabetes or heart disease -- or saying that the child is miserable because he's getting made fun at school." The issue of weight in child custody cases has risen as the American public learns more about the risks of being overweight.

Another family law specialist said in years past the concern was over smoking and only recently have parents begun to worry about sweet foods, weight and exercise. About 17 percent or 12.5 million children and teenagers in the United States are obese and since 1980 that number has tripled.

Source: foxnews.com, "Growing role of obesity in child custody battles," Oct. 31, 2011

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