Child Custody

How can a Mom Lose Custody?

Divorce can be messy, especially if you have children and assets to consider. Not only will you have to deal with emotional stress from the separation, but you also need to settle child custody matters. In general situations, fathers mostly lose the case. But still, moms should not assume anything. In the recent legal surveys, approximately 50% of the custody cases end with the father getting sole custody. 

Today, any state or territory adheres to the standard that both legal and physical child custody must be at the “best interest of the child”. The family law requires courts to focus on the child’s needs and not the parent’s needs, therefore giving custody to the parent who can meet the child’s needs best. So to say, there is always a solid ground for mothers to lose the supervision of their child. Here are serious misconducts that can cause a mom to lose child custody. 

Physical Abuse

This is a proper and common ground for a mother to lose custody of the child. Sometimes this comes in the form of “corporal punishment” such as spanking or other physical acts of punishing a child. Abusers may use their hands, feet, or objects such as belts and sticks to hurt their children, resulting in wounds, scars, bruises, and burns in the child’s body. Mothers might say these are normal parental measures, but remember that there is a fine line between discipline and physical abuse. 

There are a variety of reasons why parents abuse their children. This could be because the parent also suffered from physical abuse during her childhood, or she might be having a mental and psychological disorder. Lack of anger management and abuse of drugs and alcohol can also be a strong factor why a parent abuses his/her child. Any sort of abuse will likely cause the court to question the mother’s ability to safely parent her children. 

Emotional Abuse

This kind of abuse can be harder to prove in court, but it can be effective grounds for the removal of custodial rights from a mother. Emotional abuse comes in two forms: verbal abuse and parental alienation. Verbal abuse is when you badger or belittle the child by yelling at him for unjustified reasons. This can cause the child to drift away from you and hide his problems instead of sharing because he can’t seem to get a smooth discussion every time he tries to open up. Moreover, a child can lose self-confidence through constant belittling and it may turn him into an aloof and lonely individual. 

Another form of emotional abuse is parental alienation. It is trying to manipulate children to hate the other parent, by telling lies and hateful messages. It is also manipulating your children on how to feel about visiting their other parent. Trying to alienate your ex-spouse can be critical if your children are young and impressionable. Generally, emotional abuse is the lack of love and emotional support to the child. This may be difficult to prove in court, but there are fundamental proceedings to justify emotional abuse in child custody cases. 

Serious Neglect

Neglect can be so damaging to children. It can severely alter the way their brain works. Rebellious children are often the result of parental neglect. They are the ones who like running away from home, take pleasure in using drugs and alcohol, and loves to break the law. Neglect can lead to an increased risk of depression in later life as well as dissociative disorders and memory impairments.

A mother’s serious neglect of the child’s health, safety, education, and general welfare can cause her to lose custody of her child. The law agrees that there is no “perfect parent”, however, constant rejection of the child’s needs is already considered a form of neglect. A malnourished and ill-looking person is an obvious reflection of a neglected child. Direct witnesses could be anyone who sees the child on a frequent and regular basis. Minor infractions can be overlooked by the court, but consistent hardships could be grounds for a judge to take a second look at the custody agreement. 

Frustration of Parenting Time

This occurs when a mother consistently and unreasonably limits or interferes with a father’s parenting time and visitation rights, thus making her lose custody. Frustration of parenting time can also be related to poor co-parenting and parental alienation. It is refusing to communicate with the father and keeping him away from all events that are important to the child. Frustration of parenting time is withholding the children from their father by all means – with the desire to prove to your ex-partner and to the society that you can manage all things even as a single parent. 

Frustrating a father’s parenting time shows a lack of respect for his role in the child’s life. It will make him a “visitor” in his child’s life. It is apparently depriving him of his custodial rights unless he really wants to be distant with you and the child. Interfering the other parent’s visitation rights may lead to negative outcomes for children. And in some ways, it could also be a form of abduction. If a father keeps detailed logs about the mother’s constant denial to meet his children, then these can be used against her in court to challenge her custody. 

Violations of Court Order

Violating a child custody order can range from the technical and very minor violation to a wilful and significant one. The proper reason to lose custody of a child depends on the violation’s nature and extent. The more serious the violation is, the more serious the consequences should be. Generally, a violation of a court order is failing to comply with parental terms and shared custody agreements. 

There are several ways that a mother can violate a court order. Common examples are:

  • being late to custody exchanges for a certain number of times;
  • violating joint legal custody by making significant decisions in a child’s life without the other parent’s knowledge;
  • abuse of any form;
  • not caring for the children as instructed and agreed upon; and
  • failing to comply with a restraining order. 

A judge may terminate both legal and physical custody if a court order is violated. To avoid such a situation, every parent must understand the orders in their entirety. Parties should carefully check every line of the draft orders and ensure they have applied their consent to every aspect of the agreement.

Domestic Violence

Women can be abusers, too. Goodbye to the days when men were the only ones most guilty of domestic violence. Even if the mother is taking care of her children well but abuses the father, it still won’t look good in a custody battle. Domestic violence raises a presumptive reason to lose custody of a child.

In the Family Law, domestic violence is regarded as an intentional or reckless attempt to cause bodily injury or sexual assault. It is engaging in any behavior involving, but not limited to, threatening, striking, harassing, destroying personal property, or disturbing the peace of another. If mothers are proven to be conducting violence in the household, the court may terminate custodial rights to protect the other party seeking custody of the child or to protect the child and his/her siblings. 

Substance Abuse or Addiction

Another stereotype in society is that men are most likely to engage in destructive habits. Truth be told, both men and women struggle with addictions to harmful substances. Abuse of any kind of substance such as drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes is taken seriously in family court. If a mother is addicted to such substances, it will probably be grounds for terminating her custody. 

Even casual use of alcohol or drugs will make it more difficult to win custody. Drinking and driving with a child can also be considered a very serious offense in the court. Things will especially get worse if it involves physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. The court will determine if any safety measures are discarded by the parent and will make appropriate decisions to protect children. So be prudent and stay out of trouble. If you suffer from any addictions, seek out the appropriate help. The court may be able to return custody if the mother agrees to get counseling or other treatment to her bad condition. 

Child Abduction

Taking the child without the permission of the other parent is considered child abduction. Committing child abduction is also violating the other parent’s custodial and visitation rights. It is an apparent display of poor co-parenting and parental alienation. Child abduction can also inflict emotional abuse to the child. This might cause depression, stress, and anxiety to children that will lead to trust issues and emotional detachment. Violating any of the terms in the custody agreement relating to abduction can be solid grounds for losing custody of your child. It is, therefore, necessary to abide by all court stipulations to remain on the favorable side and to risk losing your custodial rights. 

Poor Co-Parenting

Co-parenting is meant to be joint or shared parenting to protect the child’s growth and development even after a legal separation. If a mother tends to be a toxic co-parent, the children will be at risk for developmental problems. Co-parenting requires empathy, patience, and open communication. If any of these elements is missing, poor co-parenting occurs. 

A toxic co-parenting expose your children to the conflict. It makes you appear prideful and selfish to the affectionate needs of the other parent. You are not a judge, so by all means, you don’t have the right to punish and condemn your ex after divorce. You have agreed to shared custody terms under the court, hence, you must obey the law. Depriving your ex-husband of the right to be with his child is also depriving your child of the chance to live a normal life. Don’t be cruel. Take aside your personal interests. After all, you will never win custody if it’s not for the child’s bests interests. 

Bottom Line

It still might be apprehensible that courts generally award custody of children to mothers. But it is smarter to think that equal custodial rights are now exercised by the law, more so, giving sole custody to fathers. If a mother is being abusive to her children or denying them of basic necessities, furthermore alienating their father from them, or putting their lives in danger, the court has every right to modify the existing custody agreement or completely take away the mother’s custodial rights. 

Providing a stable life for your children, keeping them in a safe haven, and giving them all the emotional and mental support that they need is usually enough to keep your custody rights. However, if matters become more serious, you can seek legal advice from well-equipped law practitioners. Conducting legal investigations is the most appropriate way to solve cases, and it wouldn’t hurt to invest a bit to save your parental rights after losing a relationship.

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