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What role can obesity and physical health play in child custody?

We have previously talked about how some Georgia family court judges may start looking at weight in making their custody decisions, but the focus had almost always been on the weight of the child. The question that is now being raised is whether a Marietta parent's obesity should be considered when deciding who should have physical custody over the children.

One man is saying that his battle to regain custody of his children has been complicated by the fact that he is overweight. The 38-year-old man weighs 360 pounds, down from his one-time high of 525. He says that the child services department who currently has custody of his children has told him that one of the reasons why he is not getting custody is because his weight would prevent him from being a good father.

Though this story comes from outside the United States, it is certainly something that could happen in Georgia. When a family court judge is deciding who will ultimately have primary physical custody of a child, he or she must consider the best interests of the child. This certainly means that a judge is not going to put a child with a parent who physically abuses him or her, but it also means looking at who will ensure that the child will get adequate nutrition and exercise. It also means providing a healthy lifestyle for the child.

In this man's story, he has not seen his children in over a year because a doctor with the Royal Ottawa Hospital's family court clinic has said that the man's long-standing struggle with obesity will affect his ability to be a parent. He or she notes that the father easily struggles for breath after walking short distances and will likely be unable to keep up with his young and active sons.

So what do you think? Should a parent's weight be a factor in determining custody?

For more information, please see this previous post on obesity and child custody decisions.

Source: CTV News, "Dad says he's losing custody battle because he's obese," June 20, 2012

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