10 Reasons for How a Mother Can Lose a Custody Battle

how a mother can lose a custody battle - who gets custody of child in divorce - how can a mother lose custody of her child

Are you trying to figure out how a mother can lose a custody battle?

Maybe you’re the mother and you’re worried you’ll lose custody.

Or you’re the father trying to figure out reasons a mother can lose custody.

Either way, in this article, you’ll learn:

(Click the links below to jump to the section.)

So, let’s dive right in.

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How a Mother Can Lose a Custody Battle

A mother can lose a custody battle if she is an unfit mother.

An unfit mother can lose a custody battle for child abuse, neglect, or inability to provide proper care.

The judges want to make sure that there is no danger to the child.

Let’s talk about how a mother can lose a custody battle.

And let’s do that by talking about what the judges want to see for child custody.

If a mother does not meet all of these criteria, it doesn’t mean the mother loses custody.

But reduced custody could be likely.

Judges look at both parents’ situations as a whole to make decisions.

  • evidence of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
  • false allegations of abuse or neglect
  • each parent’s ability to provide for the children’s physical needs, emotional wellness, and medical care
  • the ability of each parent to provide a stable, loving environment
  • level of adjustment between the children and their home, school, and community
  • living accommodations of each parent’s home
  • mental and physical health of each parent
  • quality of the relationship between the children and each parent
  • the willingness of each parent to support the child’s ongoing relationship with the other parent
  • which parent has been providing the majority of the children’s care up to this point

Again, if the judges deem a mother unfit, she could lose a custody battle.

Let’s talk about who gets custody of a child in divorce.

Who Gets Custody of Child in Divorce

It’s not always black and white on who gets custody a child in divorce.

Who gets custody of a child in a divorce is based on the best interests of the child.

And judges believe that both parents raising the child is what’s best.

The goal is fostering and encouraging the child’s:

  • happiness
  • security
  • mental health
  • emotional development

If both parents can meet these needs, then both parents will most likely get equal custody of a child in divorce.

how can a mother lose custody of her child - how can a mother lose custody to the father - how can a mother lose custody

How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child

You already know how a mother can lose a custody battle.

But what if you have custody already?

How can a mother lose custody of her child?

A mother can lose custody of her child if she commits:

  • physical abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • child neglect
  • substance abuse
  • domestic violence
  • kidnapping
  • not co-parenting

(We cover these in-depth in Section 3.)

Once a mother loses custody, she may have issues getting visitation rights.

Like, if a mother loses child custody to substance abuse.

She will have to prove she has completed a treatment program.

And she has to do this before she makes requests to regain custody rights.

How Can a Mother Lose Custody to the Father

An example for how can a mother lose custody to the father is when the mother is the breadwinner.

If the mother is the breadwinner and the father is a stay at home dad, he’s the caregiver.

The courts may feel like the children are better off staying with the father.

This is because he is the full-time, stay at home caregiver of the children.

When this happens, the mother usually has to pay child support.

Child custody laws now focus on what’s in the best interests of the child.

And just because a mother loses child custody does not make her an unfit mother.

For example, let’s say the mother relocates to another school district for work.

If the father stays in the same school district, he may get custody of the child.

The courts want to keep the child’s life as normal as possible.

That means they will do anything they can to keep the children in the same environments.

Related: Moving Out of State With Child No Custody Agreement

Can a Father Take a Child From the Mother

If there is no custody order, then the father can take the child from the mother.

Mothers and fathers have equal rights to the children when they are born during marriage.

And without a custody order, each parent has the right to take the child.

But if the child was born out of marriage, then the mothers rights to her children is full custody.

In this case, the father cannot take a child from a mother.

This is because his rights as a father are non-existent.

He has to prove that he is the father with a paternity test.

Then he has to file a petition for child custody.

Only after a custody order is granted can the father take the child from the mother.

reasons a mother can lose custody - mother keeping child away from father - what to do when mother keeps child from father

Reasons a Mother Can Lose Custody

  1. Child Abuse
  2. Child Neglect
  3. Substance Abuse
  4. Domestic Violence
  5. Parental Alienation
  6. Violation of Custody Orders
  7. Untreated Mental Illness
  8. Unsafe Housing
  9. Poor Co-Parenting
  10. Right of First Refusal Clause
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1. Child Abuse

Child abuse is one of the top reasons a mother can lose custody.

There are two types of child abuse.

They are physical child abuse and emotional child abuse.

What is Physical Child Abuse?

Physical child abuse is when a person physically hurts a child.

But accidentally hurting a child is not physical child abuse.

Intentionally hurting a child is physical child abuse.

Some physical child abuse examples that a mother can lose custody of her child for are:

  • hitting a child with an object (belt or stick)
  • hitting or beating a child
  • kicking a child
  • holding a child underwater
  • tying up a child
  • severely shaking a baby
  • burning a child

As you can tell, physical abuse is any intentional act resulting in the physical injury of a child.

physical child abuse - what is physical child abuse - mother loses custody to father - can a father get full custody

Besides physical child abuse, we also have emotional child abuse.

What is Emotional Child Abuse?

Emotional child abuse feels a lot more subjective.

After you read the list of emotional child abuse examples, you’ll get it.

Some emotional child abuse examples that a mother can lose custody of her child for are a mother who:

  • constantly screams at the child
  • threatens the child
  • tells the child she wishes they didn’t exist
  • asks the child to lie to the judge in a divorce court
  • exposes the child to domestic violence

Abusing a child is the surest way for how can a mother lose custody of her child.

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2. Child Neglect

The next reason a mother can lose child custody is due to child neglect.

Legally, the child neglect definition is:

“Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker that presents an imminent risk of serious harm to the child.”

State laws define child neglect as putting the child’s health, safety, and well-being at risk by failure to provide:

  • food
  • shelter
  • clothing
  • medical care
  • supervision
physical child abuse - what is physical child abuse - mother loses custody to father - can a father get full custody

There are some exceptions to providing medical care.

A mother who denies certain medical treatment based on religion may be exempt.

Let’s talk about the types of child neglect when it comes to how can a mother lose custody of her child.

  • Physical Neglect: Not caring for a child’s basic needs. Like hygiene, clothing, nutrition, shelter, or abandoning a child.
  • Medical Neglect: Denying or delaying necessary or recommended medical treatment.
  • Inadequate Supervision: Leaving a child who can’t care for herself home alone. Not protecting a child from safety hazards. Leaving the child with inadequate caregivers.
  • Emotional Neglect: Exposing a child to domestic violence or substance abuse. Not providing affection or emotional support.
  • Educational Neglect: Failing to enroll a child in school. Allowing a child to repeatedly skip school. Ignoring a child’s special education needs.
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3. Substance Abuse

If the courts determine that the mother has a substance abuse problem, the mother can lose custody.

This includes both legal and physical custody.

Some courts will grant joint legal custody.

But that’s only if the mother seeks treatment and enters rehab.

The courts only take action when substance abuse hinders the parent’s ability to care for the child.

The courts still defer to the child’s best interests as a whole when there is substance abuse.

Unless it’s hindering a mother’s ability to care for the child, a mother won’t lose custody for drug use.

Can a Mother Lose Custody for Drug Use

A mother won’t lose custody for drug use.

But there are situations when a mother can lose custody for drug use, such as:

  • being arrested on drug related charges
  • being arrested on alcohol related charges
  • failing a drug test after a report of mistreatment or neglect
  • failing drug tests during custody hearings
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4. Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a big deal when it comes to determining how a mother can lose a custody battle.

Evidence of domestic violence is something the judges take into consideration.

A mother can lose custody of her child if she is accused of domestic violence.

The courts make sure that the mother does not pose a threat to the father or the children.

Some things that the courts consider about domestic violence for child custody are:

  • if the domestic violence was directed at the child
  • if the domestic violence towards the father had any effects on the child
  • whether the mother poses a threat to the child
  • the severity and frequency of the domestic violence
  • whether there is a pending criminal case against the mother
  • if there is physical evidence of abuse
  • if there are police reports of alleged abuse

While it’s possible that a mother loses custody, she may also lose visitation rights.

Some outcomes of domestic violence include:

  • revoking a mother’s visitation rights
  • supervised visitation
  • order the mother to attend parenting classes
  • order the mother to attend anger management classes
  • order the mother to attend domestic violence counseling
  • place a restraining order on the mother
parental alienation - mother not letting father see child - mother keeping child from father

5. Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is when one parent uses strategies to distance the child from the other parent.

These strategies get referred to as:

  • brainwashing
  • alienating
  • programming

Parental alienation refers to two separate instances:

  • parents alienating the children from themselves
  • parents alienating the children from the other parent

For this instance, we are talking about parental alienation against fathers.

Parental alienation occurs when one parent ruins the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Signs of parental alienation can occur by the mother:

  • telling the children lies about domestic violence
  • speaking badly about the father in front of the kids
  • making the kids feel guilty about hanging out with the father
  • asking the children details about the father’s private life
  • keeping the children away from the father
  • blaming the father for the mandatory visitations
  • asking the children to choose one parent over the other

These are just a few signs of parental alienation.

Parental alienation causes the child’s relationship with the other parent to suffer.

Mother Keeping Child Away From Father

In a situation where the mother is keeping the child away from the father, you will want to hire a family law attorney.

If there is a custody order in place, the mother is violating court orders.

Your family law attorney will know what to do when mother keeps child from father.

They know how to play offense when a mother is not letting the father see the child.

But if the child is born outside of marriage, things are different.

A mothers fights to her children are automatically granted at birth.

A father has zero parental rights if the child is born out of marriage.

For a father to get custody of children, he has to:

  • prove he is the father
  • file a petition for child custody

Again, you’ll want to hire a family law attorney to get custody from the mother.

They will guide you through the exact steps you need to take to prove you are the father.

And they will argue your case for getting custody of the child.

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6. Violation of Custody Orders

Another one of the reasons a mother can lose custody is violating custody orders.

For how a mother can lose a custody battle, she can be violating temporary custody order.

But after the courts have decided who gets custody of the child in a divorce, she will be violating permanent custody orders.

Either way, let’s look at what are violations of custody orders.

Mothers Blocking Visitation

A mother making the child unavailable for court-ordered visitation is violating court orders.

This includes scheduling other activities to interfere with the visitation.

Visitation orders provide a clear outline of when the child gets to spend time with each parent.

They also give the police a clear directive to enforce.

When you go to pick up your child, bring the court order with you.

If the other parent won’t let the child see you, call the police.

The police cannot enforce custody orders, but they can file a report.

Bring this police report to your family law attorney and have them file it for you.

Related: Reasons a Judge Will Change Custody

Blocking Communication

If a mother is blocking communication, it may or may not be a direct violation of a court order.

But these types of behavior interfere with the parent-child relationship of the father.

The courts are less like to grant custody to mothers who interfere with the father-child relationship.

Denying Visitation for Misses Child Support Payments

We see mothers doing this all the time.

You should not deny visitation to fathers for missed child support payments.

Child support and child custody are two separate issues.

It seems like a good way to gain leverage.

But a mother is more likely to lose custody of her child than get child support.

Instead, a mother should file a motion to enforce child support payments.

Mother Missing Visitation

We’ve talked about blocking children from the fathers.

But what if a mother consistently misses visitation?

If a mother shows up late or misses visitation, she is violating custody orders.

While one offense won’t cause mothers to lose custody, repeated offenses can.

A child needs to know that their parent cares about them.

And that parent should make consistent efforts to show the children that.

A parent who fails to do so can lose custody of their children.

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7. Untreated Mental Illness

For how can a mother lose custody of her child, mental illness does not mean she instantly loses custody.

But it does get taken into consideration for custody decisions.

The courts will check whether mental illness affects the relationship with the child.

They want to make sure it will not negatively impact her parenting ability.

It really depends on the severity of mental illness.

The following examples are how a mother can lose custody due to mental illness.

  • frequent hospitalizations
  • frequent violent outbursts
  • requires in-home care

The mother can lose custody to the father if she has severe mental illnesses.

But if she’s able to manage the mental illnesses, the mother may not lose custody to the father.

A mother is less likely to lose custody of children when the mental illness is treatable with medication or therapy.

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8. Unsafe Housing

Sometimes who gets custody of a child in divorce is based on the living conditions.

A judge will inquire about the safety aspects of the neighborhood and the housing itself.

A judge may deem a neighborhood unsafe for the child, for which a mother can lose a custody battle.

The judge is considering whether there is potential harm to the child in the area.

If there is, they might limit overnight visits to the mother’s house.

They will want to know things like how many of the following are there:

  • break-ins
  • homicides
  • sex offenders
  • shootings
  • assaults
  • kidnapping
  • sexual assaults
  • rape

Related: If There Is No Custody Order In Place Can I Take My Child?

Do your own research and make sure that your neighborhood is not a crime hotspot.

The other aspect that a mother can lose custody to the father for is the housing itself.

The judge is making sure that your housing is safe and appropriate.

It doesn’t mean that you need to own a nice house with a picket fence.

You can provide safe housing with relatives, a motel room, or renting as well.

But a reason mothers can lose custody is if you are living in a vehicle.

Or in some other type of substandard or dangerous situation.

For example, a condemned home or with people who have abused children in the past.

Mothers losing custody of children for unsafe housing is usually temporary.

Meaning, you can regain custody after you can prove that you can provide safe housing for the child.

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9. Poor Co-Parenting

Co-parenting after the divorce process is rarely easy.

The courts believe that it’s in the child’s best interests to be raised by both parents.

But the quality of the co-parenting relationship can affect children.

Bad co-parenting can negatively impact a child’s mental and emotional well-being.

A mother demonstrating that she cannot co-parent is one way how a mother can lose a custody battle.

But usually, the courts want both parents in the child’s life.

This can overpower a mother who is a bad co-parent.

The reason bad co-parenting affects custody of children is if it affects the child’s:

  • health
  • education
  • safety
  • welfare

It is in both parent’s best interests to co-parent effectively.

This means you will have to overcome challenges and work with your ex.

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10. Right of First Refusal Clause

The right of first refusal allows parents to be the “go-to” person before third party care.

Meaning, if you’re going out, the other parent gets the option to watch the child before a babysitter does.

The right of first refusal applies to:

  • last-minute activities
  • planned activities
  • doctors appointments
  • vacations
  • daycare arrangements

Note that a right of first refusal only applies if the clause is in your custody agreement.

If it is in there, the mother has to let the father have the first option.

If she leaves the child with a neighbor or family member, it’s a reason a mother can lose custody.

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How to Get Custody of a Child From an Unfit Mother

Let’s say that you think the mother of your child is an unfit mother.

If you’re trying to figure out how to get custody of a child from an unfit mother, you should:

  • hire a family law attorney
  • request a child custody evaluation
  • request a modification of child custody

This section digs deeper into what is an unfit mother and how to get custody of a child from an unfit mother.

Unfit Mother Examples

What are some unfit mother examples so that you know what to look out for?

This list is not all-inclusive, but it gives you an idea of what to look out for for an unfit mother.

Unfit mother examples are:

  • mother does not age restrict the child’s content. (i.e., letting a child watch a rated M movie.)
  • mother constantly relying on assistance to take care of the child
  • cannot work together with the other parent to co-parent
  • physically or emotionally abuses the child
  • the mother commits domestic violence
  • the mother has a substance abuse problem
  • the mother has an untreated mental health issue that’s unmanageable

Again, this is not a fully inclusive list of unfit mother examples.

But it gives you an idea of what is an unfit mother.

What is an Unfit Mother

Wondering what is an unfit mother?

An unfit mother is a mother who fails to provide proper care, guidance, and support to the child.

what is an unfit mother - how to get custody of a child from an unfit mother - how to prove a mother unfit - unfit mother examples

Also, a mother will be deemed unfit if there are issues with:

  • abuse
  • neglect
  • substance abuse

When a mother is unfit, Child Welfare Services has to get involved.

There is usually an active investigation against the mother if she is unfit.

Let’s talk about how to prove a mother unfit.

How to Prove a Mother Unfit

To prove a mother unfit, the judge or father may request a child custody evaluation.

To prove a mother unfit, the evaluator will:

  • review court documents
  • review health records
  • observe parent and child interactions
  • interview parents, children, and involved professionals

The evaluation will include psychological testing of the mother.

After the evaluation is complete, the evaluator will create a report for the courts.

The judges use these child custody evaluations to prove the mother is unfit or not.

If the mother objects to anything in the report, she will have an opportunity to present her objections.

Her presentation may include testimony or evidence contradicting the report.

It’s best to hire a family law attorney to help defend your case.

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How to Win a Child Custody Case for Mothers

If you’re trying to figure out how to win a child custody case for mothers, it’s easy.

  • take care of your children
  • don’t partake in substance abuse
  • don’t alienate your children from the father
  • work with the father and co-parent to the best of your ability
  • don’t commit domestic violence
  • don’t violate child custody orders
  • don’t neglect your children
  • don’t physically or emotionally abuse the children
  • do not kidnap your children

Related: Grounds for Full Custody of Child

If you’re just a good parent, you provide for your children, and you work with the father you will win a custody case.

And no, winning a custody case for mothers does not mean full custody for mothers.

It’s very unlikely that a mother gets full custody during a divorce.

Related: Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

(If you were never married, then you should automatically get full custody.)

There are numerous reasons why a judge would give full custody to mothers.

Fathers lose custody the same way mothers do.

But, in general, the judge wants both parents involved in the child’s life.

They will try to give the child equal time with both parents.

So, as long as you are a good parent in the judge’s eyes, you will not lose custody.

What Are My Rights as a Mother

Mother’s rights to her child are not cut and dry.

The courts will determine a mother’s rights to her child.

The first thing they take into consideration is whether the child was born during a marriage.

If the child was born outside of marriage, this gives full custody for mothers.

This means that she has complete authority to make major and minor decisions for the child.

With full custody for mothers, they can make decisions on the following:

  • Home residence
  • School
  • Child care
  • Health needs (doctor, dental, therapy, counseling, etc.)
  • Sports, church, summer camps, and extracurricular activities
  • Vacations and travel

But what are my rights as a mother if the child is born during the marriage?

Mother Rights to Her Child During Divorce

When the parents are filing for divorce, the courts do not automatically grant mothers rights to her children.

The courts will focus on what’s in the best interest of the child.

Some of the factors they consider are:

  • the child’s physical and emotional health
  • the strength of the parent-child relationship
  • the stability of the mother’s home environment
  • whether a parent has failed to pay child support
  • the mother’s willingness to parent the child
  • any evidence of violence or domestic abuse
  • the child’s wishes if they are of an appropriate age to express a preference

Most states give equal rights to both parents when the child is born during marriage.

And the child custody laws are set up in a way where they like to give equal custody to both parents.

Next, let’s talk about child custody battle tips for mothers.

custody battle tips for mothers - can a mother keep the child away from the father - how to get full custody of a child

Custody Battle Tips for Mothers

When it comes to custody battle tips for mothers, let’s talk about what to do and what NOT to do.

What To Do During Custody Battles for Mothers

These custody battle tips are what you should during custody battles for mothers.

Working With Your Ex

We have seen mothers losing custody of children over not working with the child’s father.

Remember that while you may not like the father, they are a part of your child’s life.

You need to show the court that you are willing to work together for the children.

Related: Getting Custody Back From Grandparents

Exercise Parental Rights

If you have visitation with your children, DO NOT reschedule or miss it.

Spend as much time with your children as you can.

Make sure that you are not ONLY doing the fun things with your kids.

You want to be involved with their:

  • homework
  • getting them to school
  • extracurricular activities
  • religion (if they have any)
  • medical appointments
  • medical treatments

Show the courts that you are good at meeting the child’s developmental needs too.

Request In-Home Custody

Thin that the father will use lie about your living situation to get more custody of kids?

You can request an in-home evaluation.

The purpose of the in-home evaluation makes sure that the child’s needs are being met.

A mental health professional, usually a psychologist, is who performs the evaluation.

They will evaluate your living situation and parenting skills.

They will create a report for the courts.

Related: Dissolution vs Divorce

Keep Documentation

When trying to figure out who gets custody of a child in a divorce, documentation is very important.

Child custody documentation is important when figuring out:

  • how to prove a mother unfit
  • how to get full custody of a child
  • how a mother can lose custody of her child

Documentation will either make or break mothers losing custody.

Whether you are the mother or the father, keep this documentation.

  • visitation schedules
  • written submissions to the court
  • phone call logs between the child and other parent

Other things you need to document are behavior.

You need child custody documentation for another parent’s:

  • substance abuse
  • domestic violence
  • poor living conditions
  • not showing up for the child
  • not getting the child to school
  • physical abuse
  • emotional abuse

The best form of documentation is video recordings.

This provides video and audio evidence.

Other forms of proof are:

  • text messages
  • emails
  • voicemails
  • photos
  • audio recordings
  • witnesses

Find an Experienced Family Law Attorney

This goes without saying that you should be hiring the best family law attorney that you can.

They will fully understand how to use child custody laws to play defense or offense for your case.

They understand how can a mother lose custody of her child.

And they will know how to defend against it.

Because they will know the reasons a judge will change custody and be on offense for you.

Now that we’ve covered custody battle tips for mothers to help them win, let’s talk about what not to do.

What NOT To Do During Custody Battles for Mothers

Now, let’s talk about what NOT to do as custody battle tips for mothers.

Wondering how a mother can lose a custody battle?

These are the biggest reasons a mother can lose custody.

  • talk negatively about your ex
  • not show up to visitations or pickups on time
  • reschedule your time with the children
  • violate court orders
  • misuse of alcohol or drugs

Talking Negatively About Your Ex

You probably hate your ex.

I get it.

But, if you don’t want to potentially lose custody to the father, then don’t do it.

Keep opinions and feelings about your ex to yourself.

Even if the children ask questions, be positive.

Especially don’t give in if the other parent is talking bad.

Related: Irreconcilable Differences

Not Show Up to Visitations or Pickups On Time

You might think that showing up late is not a reason a mother can lose custody.

But if you never show up on time, or don’t show up at all, for your visitations, you can.

The courts want to know that you are going to be a reliable parent to the child.

When you don’t show up, you are letting the kids know they are not a priority.

This shows the courts that the children are not your priority.

And this is how a mother can lose custody to the father.

Rescheduling Your Time With the Children

Let’s say you continuously reschedule visitation time with the kids.

This tells the courts that you don’t really want child custody.

You are never showing up to be there for your children.

A lot of times, judges feel like mothers are trying to win custody cases out of spite.

You don’t want the father to be able to provide documentation that you don’t show up.

If the father provides proof that you have a habit of rescheduling visitation, a mother can lose custody.

Violating Court Orders

How a mother can lose a custody battle?

Violating direct court orders is a way to really piss off the judge.

When you violate court orders judges are more likely to end up taking custody from a mother.

You want to make sure that you follow the custody orders to the T.

This is your time to show the courts that you are committed to following the rules.

If they make you go to a parenting class or counseling, then do it.

The last thing you want is to have a judge ask you why you refuse to attend these.

Your excuse is never going to be good enough to violate court orders.

Over To You

If you don’t want to lose custody, you need to hire the best family law attorney possible.

They will be able to play offense so that you can see your children again.

Fill out the form below for a free, 30-minute consultation.

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