Gone are the days when mothers automatically get full custody of their children just because they are the primary caretakers. Today approximately 50% of all custody cases end with the father getting sole custody for various reasons. Why would a mother lose custody of her child or children? Here are the top four reasons:
- Child neglect is a very common reason that mothers lose custody of their children. Neglect could be as simple as leaving the child unattended while you run to the store or it could be intentionally not providing the basics of caregiving such as feeding, bathing, or withholding necessary medical services. Neglect is defined as the failure of a parent, guardian or other caregiver to provide for the child’s most basic needs. This includes their physical, emotional, educational, or medical needs. If the mother neglects to provide these things to the child, she may risk losing custody of her children in court.
- Most parents lose custody of their child or children due to documented child abuse. Abuse can be defined as anything from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse to child abandonment. The court-ordered custody hearings will reveal if there is a history of abuse by a parent against any child. The following are signs of child abuse: scars, bruises, cuts, marks, broken bones, or outbursts or behavioral changes from the child. Some would even consider slapping or spanking a child as a method of discipline that could be viewed as abusive. If either parent has ever initiated inappropriate sexual behavior toward any child, he or she could lose custody of the child or children. Some divorcing couples even introduce past anger issues in court in order to make a case for custody (both legal and physical custody can be lost because of abusiveness).
- Substance abuse such as drugs, alcohol, even cigarettes or vaping can be an issue of contention in some courts where child custody is concerned. If a mother has any official charges against her such as reckless endangerment or driving while intoxicated (DWIs), then winning custody of a child will be even more difficult. In most states there is a specific family code that spells out what is considered substance abuse. For example, in California the family code says that the court shall consider “the habitual or continual illegal use of controlled substances, the habitual or continual abuse of alcohol, or the habitual or continual abuse of prescribed controlled substances by either parent” as reason to deny custody. (This also includes controlled substances such as prescription painkillers, opioids, etc. as well as the social drinking habits of a parent.)
- The fourth reason that mothers lose custody involves overnight guests and who or what the children may be exposed to. Custody orders will be very specific about what is and isn’t acceptable in regard to overnight guests, boyfriends, or sexual partners. Your lifestyle absolutely matters. The court and the judge will be evaluating how you behave as a soon-to-be single woman where your children are concerned. The best advice is to not start dating before your divorce is final and do not allow any male guests to stay overnight – if your children are exposed to strangers, this could damage your custody case if friends or family testify to such behavior. Because children are involved, the court orders are usually very specific about this subject.
Raising a child or children is definitely a team effort, especially if you are facing divorce or separation. Don’t let your personal issues with your spouse affect your ability to take care of your children – the judge will have the ultimate say in the matter if you do. If you suspect that your wife has engaged in any of the above behaviors, you may need documented proof to bring these issues to light in a courtroom. Consider hiring a private investigator to uncover that information instead of doing it yourself. Manhattan private investigator Darrin Giglio agrees that professional surveillance is essential to determine people’s patterns, where they go, who they spend time with, and whether they are involved in illegal or illicit activities. It’s worth the investment in order to protect your children.
Dona Perkins is a freelance writer based in Denton, Texas. She covers topics including divorce, family relationships and health.