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Does DCFS Remove Overweight Children 

Childhood obesity is becoming an increasingly large issue. Across the globe, rates of childhood obesity are increasing at an unprecedented rate. Not only are the rates of obesity increasing, but the rates of obesity-related complications are also increasing. If your child is struggling with weight-related health problems, you’ve likely attempted to help them live a healthier lifestyle. But what if your ex isn’t on board with your plan to get your child to a healthy weight? What happens when your ex is actually allowing your child to eat unhealthy food and stay inactive? Would the courts consider this to be medical neglect? And, if so, is there anything that can be done about this? 

The Short Answer 

The short answer is that, outside of extreme cases, DCFS would probably not remove children from thIe home due to obesity alone. While it certainly isn’t good for a child to be obese, removing the child from their home isn’t good either. In fact, removing children from the home is such a traumatic experience that it’s often a last resort even when children are experiencing physical abuse, sexual abuse, or severe or continued patterns of neglect. In most cases, parents are given every chance possible to change their ways and become fit parents before the children are removed from the home. So, if you have a child who is a few pounds overweight, it is extremely unlikely that they will be removed from the home by DCFS for that reason alone, though other circumstances may factor into a child’s removal from the home. 

Is Obesity Abuse? 

Whether or not allowing your child to become obese is considered to be abuse is a question that each parent needs to decide for themselves. Legally speaking, having an overweight or obese child is not usually considered to be abuse or neglect. However, children have been removed for obesity related concerns. However, it should be noted that these were extreme cases. n Ohio, a child was removed from his mother’s custody due to medical neglect. In just third grade, the child weighed over 200 lbs. Usually, having a child who’s overweight, or even obese, is not enough to have the child removed for medical neglect. 

Who Makes Medical Decisions? 

If you have a child who’s overweight or obese, you may be wondering whether or not you can put them on a diet, or send them to a weight loss camp. Parents have the right to raise their children as they deem appropriate insofar as they are not causing a child harm. Having your child follow a diet or enroll them in a program, they are able to do so. Whether or not you can do this after a divorce, and who will pay for it, will depend on what’s outlined in your divorce decree. In some cases, it may be argued that it’s in the child’s best interest to lose weight and make a lifestyle change.  If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, and you’re struggling to come to a solution that both you and your ex agree upon, you may need to get a lawyers involved.  

The Child’s Best Interests 

In most cases, judges believe it’s in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents, assuming both parents are fit to parent the child. While it is not good for children to be overweight or obese, completely cutting off a parent’s access to the child due to the child’s weight alone may be more harmful for the child. If there’s presently an order for custody arrangements, judges may not be eager to modifying the custody order outside of extreme circumstances because it can harm the stability of a child’s life. 

When You Have Concerns 

When it comes to your child’s well-being, there is nothing more important than ensuring that their health is attended to. If you have concerns that your child is experiencing any form of medical neglect, it may be in your best interest to speak with an attorney regarding your child’s condition. While obesity-related concerns do not typically constitute medical neglect, there are definitely cases where children are not receiving proper medical attention from their custodians. If you believe that your ex is not caring for the medical needs of your child during their parent time, speaking with an experienced family law attorney may help you determine which steps are next. At CoilLaw, our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and fighting for you when it matters most. If you’re ready for an initial consultation, contact us today to get started. 


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