Over the past several years childhood obesity has been on the rise. And as the concerns surrounding issues like poor self-image and health issues are often topics talked about, it turns out that an increasing number of parents are also using obesity against each other in child custody battles.
According to legal experts, these accusations often range from what their former spouse is allowing the child to eat, to the former spouse themselves being obese and unable to take care of the child due to their weight.
And aside from the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that obesity rates have tripled since 1980, one University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law professor also points to the fact that there have been changes in the way custody disputes are resolved, which has upped the stakes for each parent to bring up shortcomings in parenting.
According to one attorney, before obesity, it used to be that smoking was brought up in child custody cases. Now, concerns around smoking have turned to eating habits and the amount of exercise that a child gets while with the other parent.
In general, custody disputes are normally decided upon what is in the best interest of the child. However, the topic of obesity has even crept into that conversation, as some states have specifically changed the definition of best interest to include the child’s physical health.
Looking to the near future, this is surely a topic that is going to continue to be raised in Missouri child custody disputes. But what do you think? Should the physical health of a child be a deciding factor in a child custody case? How much weight should be given to things like diet and lifestyle when deciding what is in the best interest of the child?
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Obesity Fuels Custody Fights,” Ashby Jones and Shirley S. Wang, Oct. 29, 2011