Could Obesity Be A Factor In Your Child Custody Case?

It doesn't really surprise anyone to hear that obesity is a problem. What surprises people, however, is that it can become a serious issue in a custody battle. Can you really lose custody over your child's weight? Can your weight be a factor in a child custody case? Surprisingly, the answer is, "Yes." This is what you should know.

It's All About The Child's Best Interests.

The reason that obesity - yours or your child's - can come into play in a custody battle is the wide latitude given to family court judges in deciding what is in the "best interests" of the child. Essentially, the goal of the court is centered around the child's well-being alone - which means that the judge is free to consider just about anything material that might impact the child's happiness, health, emotional stability or physical development.

That means that your child's weight could be considered a factor if the court finds that you've failed as a parent to provide a healthy, nutritious diet for your child or allowed your child to overeat to the point of being obese. Obese children are at risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, among other things.

The court could also find that your waistline is an issue - if there's evidence that your weight makes it difficult or impossible for you to properly care for your children. Obesity can put physical limits on an individual's ability to walk, chase after children, stand long enough to cook meals for them, or clean a house. In 2012, an obese father lost custody of his two special needs children because the court doubted his ability to keep up with their care due to his weight.

When Is This Likely To Become An Issue?

In many cases, accusations about a parent's unwillingness to keep a child on a healthy diet come into play when there's already a custody battle going on. Typically, one parent will accuse the other of failing to properly care for the child's physical well-being and point to the child's weight and fast-food diet as evidence.

However, there are also cases where the states have stepped in and taken custody of children because the parents weren't doing what needed to be done to control their children's weight. In Ohio, a woman lost custody of her son after failing to follow a doctor-prescribed diet for her 200lb third-grader. The social workers involved considered her actions a form of medical neglect.

In most situations, obesity is not going to become a major factor in your custody battle and the state is only likely to take action in extreme cases. However, if you're involved in a custody battle and either you or your child are overweight, talk to a lawyer, like the ones at Law Offices of Gordon Liebmann, about the potential for the issue of obesity to be raised.