SmartDivorce provides the information you need.

Start your divorce now.
100% Court Approved Divorce Papers

Secondhand Smoke and Child Custody

Secondhand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), can have an impact on child custody decisions. The possible consequences of parental smoking in a custody case can range from termination of parental rights or a change of custody and restrictions on visitation to the smoking parent receiving custody with smoking restrictions and a requirement for follow up reports to the court.

First, here are a few facts about secondhand smoke that courts have already taken judicial notice of.

  • Secondhand smoke consists of mainstream smoke exhaled from a smoker's lungs and sidestream smoke that comes directly from the burning tobacco.

  • Secondhand smoke comes from all tobacco products, including pipe tobacco and cigars.

  • Secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen. That puts it in a class with 15 other substances, including asbestos, radon and benzene, that are known to cause cancer in human beings.

  • Secondhand smoke contains 4,000 substances with more than 40 of them known to cause cancer and many of them known to be strong irritants to human tissues and organs. Examples of these substances are: carbon monoxide (CO), ammonia, nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, benzo[a]pyrene, dimethylnitrosamine, tar, formaldehyde, and beta-naphthylamine.

  • The chemicals in secondhand smoke damage cell DNA.

Here are a few facts about how involuntary smoking, or passive smoking, effects children:

  • Children, especially infants and toddlers, exposed to secondhand smoke have more lower respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and are more likely to be hospitalized during the first two years of their lives for a serious lung problem.

  • There is a link between secondhand smoke and infants who died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have reduced lung functioning and symptoms like coughing, sneezing, excess phlegm, wheezing, stuffy nose, headaches, sore throat, eye irritation, hoarseness, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, lack of energy, or fussiness.

  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to middle ear infections. Passive smoking can lead to a buildup of fluid in the middle ear as a result of irritation and swelling of the Eustachian tubes connecting the middle ear and nasal passages.

  • The greater the amount of parental smoking the more frequently children of those parents have respiratory infections.

  • In families where both parents smoke, the children have significantly more respiratory infections.

  • Children exposed to passive smoking have significantly reduced pulmonary functioning and their lung growth is hindered. Since they subsequently fail to reach their optimum lung growth, they are more likely to have pulmonary health problems as adults.

  • Maternal smoking relates more closely to childhood respiratory infection than paternal smoking.

  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma. For those children who already have asthma, exposure to secondhand smoke increases the frequency and strength of a child's asthma attacks.

  • Children exposed to parental smoking are more likely to suffer accidental cigarette burns and hazards from fires set by children playing with matches and butane lighters or parents leaving burning cigarettes unattended.

  • Adults, who as children were exposed to significant levels of secondhand smoke, are more likely to have lung cancer, heart disease and cataracts.

  • Children exposed to parental smoking are more prone to becoming smokers.

  • Children exposed to parental smoking have emotional and psychological concerns about the smoking parent's health.

Facts about secondhand smoke and smoking for pregnant women:

  • Women who smoke during pregnancy or who are repeatedly exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have a miscarriage.

  • Babies, whose mothers smoke or who are repeatedly exposed to secondhand smoke, are more likely to be born stillborn, premature and not fully developed, or with a lower birth weight.

  • Infants whose mothers smoked during the pregnancy or were repeatedly exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  • Children, whose mothers smoked during the pregnancy or were repeatedly exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from some childhood cancers.

In a custody fight, courts across the country can, and have, done the following:

  • Determined that the risks to the child's health in exposure to secondhand smoke from parental smoking are one factor among several others that should be used when determining what custody arrangement is in the best interests of a child.

  • Taken judicial notice of the effects of secondhand smoke on children.

  • Ordered the smoking parent to restrict his or her smoking when the children are present or before exercising a period of custody.

  • Transferred custody from the parent who smokes to the nonsmoker parent.

  • Taken custody from both parents and awarded it to a relative or other third party.

  • Retained jurisdiction for a period of months after entering a custody order to check on parental compliance with orders.

  • Discounted the claims or efforts of a parent who is trying to quit smoking. The reasoning is that the parent may be more motivated by a desire to win the custody fight than a genuine concern for the health and welfare of the child.

  • The smoking habits of grandparents, significant others and any other person who has frequent contact with the child may be a factor in a child custody decision.

One note of caution about parents who smoke and willfully and knowingly expose their children to secondhand smoke:

  • The language and definitions used in the child abuse and neglect laws of some states may be interpreted so that parental smoking around children is considered a form of child abuse. It is possible that professionals, like psychologists, pediatricians or certain care-givers, may be required to report a child suffering from symptoms caused by exposure to secondhand smoke to the appropriate child protection agencies.

If you smoke, here are some steps you can take to reduce the effects of your secondhand smoke on your children. They could also decrease the detrimental effect your smoking could have on the outcome in a divorce, modification, or termination of your parental rights action:

  • Always smoke outside and wait a while after you smoke a cigarette, cigar or pipe before entering your home.

  • If you must smoke in your home, restrict it to one room away from your children. Always have a window open for cross ventilation and use a good air cleaner with a clean air filter.

  • Never smoke in a car when your children are present. Smoking with a window open or cracked is not sufficient.

  • Take affirmative steps to avoid places where your children will be exposed to secondhand smoke.

  • Quit smoking. If you need help to quit, visit

For more information and the sources for the facts in this article, see reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control, The Environmental Protection Agency, The American Academy of Pediatricians, and the American Lung Association.

Legal resources can be obtained from the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the St. Louis University Public Law Review, and the Marquette Law Review among several others.

Add an Article to Your Web Site

There are several articles that you can easily add to your Web site by using our syndication program. There is no charge, it's free. All you have to do is add one line of code to your Web site and it's ready to go.

Message Boards and Links

Visit the Message Boards and Recommended Links for more information and resources about divorce.


The author and publisher of this article have done their best to give you useful and accurate information. This article does not replace the advice you should get from a lawyer, accountant or other professional if the content of the article involves an issue you are facing. Divorce laws vary from state-to-state and change from time-to-time. In addition, it is a very fact-specific area of the law, meaning that the particular facts of your marriage and divorce, as well as other external factors may determine how the law is applied in your situation. Always consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions about the issues described in this article. Thank you.

Why Choose us?

  • 100% Court Acceptance Guarantee
  • Fast and affordable divorce service
  • Free settlement agreement included
  • Child support and child custody forms included
  • Name change documents included
  • Simple to understand instructions

Divorce doesn't have to be expensive.

With years of experience and praise by the Courts, you
can rest assured that your divorce will be completed.

At smartDivorce, we make the process of divorce simple for you. We will prepare your divorce forms, which will include the Petition for Divorce and all the other documents required by your local court, and send them to you ready to sign and file..

  • Attorney quality divorce documents
  • 100% money-back court acceptance guarantee
  • Fast and affordable divorce service
  • Award winning custody support
  • Fast divorce processing
  • Unlimited Free changes and updates

Choose your State:

START YOUR DIVORCE NOW-Open a Free Acount Below

Divorce doesn't have to be expensive.

  • Divorce specialists
  • 100% court guarantee
  • All 50 States
  • Award winning support
  • Fast divorce processing
  • Free changes

Choose your State:

   Wife or the husband?
What is your email address? 
      What is your first name?
Re-enter your Email  
   What is your middle name?
Create a password
   What is your legal last name?
Re-enter password
      Telephone number:

What Our Divorce Customers Say

How to divorce
  • M. Saunders
  • Chicago, Illinois

My divorce was completed yesterday. I wanted to send you a letter and let you know how much I appreciate your service. The Judge complemented me on being prepared. I could have never afforded a divorce lawyer, he wanted to charge me $2,500 to start the case. Your staff was awesome. Thanks so much for all the help you gave me.

Our Mission

Court Approved Divorce Documents

Our divorce forms have been used by thousands of people in Courts across the country. From small towns to the largest cities, our documents will be approved by your local court.

Excellent Customer Support

Our support staff is knowledgable and ready to help you complete your divorce. We stay with you until your divorce is final.

100% Court Acceptance Guarantee

We back our service by a 100% Money-Back Court Acceptance Guarantee. See our guarantee page for details.

Divorce Papers valid in all 50 States.

How to file for divorce
Affordable Divorce Forms

You can now get a divorce without having to pay thousands to a local divorce lawyer. Professsional divorce documents and support.


Do it yourself divorce forms
Child Custody and Support Documents

Our divorce documents include a separation agreement and all the forms required for child custody, child support and property division.


File divorce online
Professional Divorce Specialists

Each divorce form is prepared by an experienced divorce specialists. Backed by 100% court acceptance guarantee.