Written by Canterbury Law Group

Can A Mother Lose Custody Of Her Child?

Can A Mother Lose Custody Of Her Child

Many fathers think there is a bias in favor of mothers when it comes to custody cases. Indeed, in common parlance, one hears of the mother losing custody a great deal more than the custodial parent (regardless of gender) losing custody of their child or children. This outlook is very understandable, and you can be forgiven for thinking the road to obtaining custody is long and fraught with pitfalls…but the reality is usually different. Remember, certain parental misconduct, regardless of gender, can be just cause for that parent to lose custody of their child or children.

Read on to learn more about how a mother can lose custody over her child or children and what your role might be in the process.

There are two things to keep in mind as you are reading this:

  1. This piece discusses serious acts of misconduct originated by the custodial mother that should be the cause of her losing custody over her child or children. It is not, however, about how a father seeking custody should conduct themselves or take part in litigation that is not needed and not reasonable.
  2. This piece is for fathers who have a goal of obtaining custody over their child or children but as yet do not have a plan in place to achieve that goal. There is no question of the courage required to go to litigation in a case of child custody. When you lack a plan to achieve a goal, it is little more than wishful thinking on the part of the father. You have to seriously ask yourself:  “Am I willing to follow through on this and commit to the process and the results?” – If you are unsure or the answer is a resolute “No” – you are wasting your time reading further.

However, if you possess the skills, courage and fiscal ability to go to family court and expose the misconduct of the mother towards the child or children and then make positive changes in the lives of your child or children, by reading this you are in a great place to proceed!

The Top Reasons for A Mother to Lose Custody of her Child or Children

  • The mother committed acts of physical abuse towards the father or the child or children.
  • The mother committed acts of mental abuse on the child or children and this includes acts and behaviors designed to promote the concept of parental alienation to the child or children.
  • The mother is neglecting the child or children.
  • The mother expresses frustrations or acts in a way that produces custodial interference of father’s parenting time.
  • The mother is violating existing orders of the court.

How Can a Mother’s Physical Abuse of a Child or Children Cause Her to Lose Custody?

Unquestionably, physical abuse is a valid basis for a mother to lose custody of her child or children. Furthermore, as the father, you may be found to be partaking in child neglect if you do not take appropriate action and do not prevent the continuation of said physical abuse. You have a responsibility and a duty to undertake the protection of your child or children. In simple terms, time cannot afford to be wasted and you need to act without delay to remove your child or children from a situation that is physically abusive towards them. A mother may (and very frequently does) lose custody of her child or children in any of the ways described below. But please note, this is not an exhaustive or all-inclusive list.

  • Law enforcement deciding to pursue action following a report of physical abuse towards the child or children.
  • Social services (often known as Child Protective Services or CPS or DES in some areas) receives a report alleging physical abuse of a child or children and then opens a case with the purpose of investigating the allegation. CPS retains the legal powers to physically remove a child or children from a home where they suspect or have evidence of a child or children have been the victims of physical abuse and they often provide custody, albeit on a short-term and temporary basis to other family members or the non-abusive parent. Many times, this is the first step towards what is known as a “dependency” court action.
  • The father goes to a family court and files what is called a “request for order.” This process informs the court of the physical abuse being perpetrated by the mother towards the child or children. In normal circumstances the order requests the court to make a determination awarding sole physical and legal custody of the child or children to the father with the mother of the child or children receiving visitation that is professionally monitored.

The Mother’s Physical Abuse Towards the Father

If the mother has committed acts of physical abuse to the father in the following ways, she can lose custody of her child or children:

  • Law enforcement arrests the mother of the child or children following an act of domestic violence. Normally this means the father will obtain from the police an “emergency protective order” and in some cases the criminal law judge will issue what is called a criminal protective order. This happens when the mother is going to be prosecuted by the city attorney or the district attorney.
  • The father requests sole physical custody and sole legal custody when filing with the family a court a domestic violence restraining order petition that will most likely include terms for supervised levels of visitation for the mother of the child or children.

Can Emotional Abuse Perpetrated By the Mother of a Child Or Children Cause Her to Lose Custody?

Here are some of the most frequently experiences forms of emotional abuse that can be inflicted by a mother towards a father or a child or children. Again, this list is not exhaustive or all inclusive:

  • Verbal abuse from the mother aimed at a child or children. Usually in the form of disparagement, belittling or badgering and often by the means of shouting at the child or children for reasons that cannot be rationally justified.
  • The mother working to isolate the father in the mind of a child or children by utilizing what is known as parental alienation.
  • Although very difficult to provide convincing evidence to back up…the assertion emotional or love support is being withdrawn or has been withdrawn from the child or children.
  • Emotional and/or physical abuse of a sibling or the father. If a mother exposes a child to the aforementioned abuse, these are legitimate and correct grounds that the mother may lose custody of the child or children as a result of her actions.

How Serious Does Neglect Have to Become for a Mother to Lose Custody of Her Child or Children?

Serious neglect is undoubtedly a correct, proper and legitimate basis for a mother to lose custody of her child or children. Obviously, parenting is not a perfect process and even the strictest family law judge appreciates this fact and that parents may make unintentional mistakes. However, a mistake is very different from a parent exercising poor judgment on a consistent basis throughout the lives of their child or children. When a mother chooses to seriously neglect the safety, the wellbeing, health, education of her child or children it is very clear these derelictions of duty should be just cause for the mother to lose custody of her child or children.

Can A Mother Lose Custody of Her Child or Children Because of the Frustration Of Parenting Time?

There is a lack of a specific legal definition for frustration of parenting time but it can be summed up as: consistent and unreasonable limitation or interference with the parenting time of the other parent. There are at least three different reasons why this should be a justified cause for a mother to lose custody of her child or children:

  • It shows a lack of respect and for the dignity of the father and his role in the life of the child or children when a mother continually frustrates the parenting time of the father.
  • It displays a refusal or lack of ability to co-parent.
  • It is indicative the mother is capable of engaging in more destructive behaviors and conduct that will be detrimental to the lives of the father and the child or children. When this issue is not addressed at the outset, the next step the mother often takes is actively causing parental alienation, further separating the physical and emotional bonds a father has with his child or children.

If A Mother Violates A Court Order, Is This Cause For Her To Lose Custody Of Her Child Or Children?

Another type of misconduct is when court orders are violated. As you would imagine, the seriousness of the violation committed should be a reflection of the seriousness of any resulting consequences. Even if a mother is routinely a few minutes late dropping off or picking up her child or children, it is very unlikely this will result in any change of the outstanding custodial arrangements. Conversely, let us say a mother decides to interpret that the parenting time of the father is merely a suggestion by the court that she can use her discretion as opposed to a court order – this will represent a violation of a very serious nature and may well lead to the custody of a child or children being transferred to the father.

What Steps Need To be Taken For a Child Or Children To be Extracted From the Custody of A Mother?

This is dependent on whether the father already has a child custody order in place.

When Married Parents Do Not Have A Child Custody Order In Place

When the father is still married to the mother and no divorce has been filed – the father has to make a determination regarding the current situation. His options are:

  • Commence and file a formal dissolution of marriage case.
  • Start the process of legal separation.

When the parenting issue has become so strained it is just another indication the marriage is beyond reconciliation, fathers would be wise to do the following regarding the treatment the child or children receive from their mother:

  • Document mother’s misconduct and make a reasonable effort to communicate in order to get to a stage where the misconduct stops. The documentation can be in the forms of written or electronic communication with the mother.
  • The father will need to speak with an attorney nuanced in family law should the misconduct of the mother continue. Together, the father and the family law attorney can review the situation and look at further options.
  • The father should file a request with the court for an order for an appropriate amount of parenting and custody time, should the father move forward with a child custody petition, legal separation or marriage dissolution.

When Unmarried Parents Do Not Have A Child Custody Order

In this situation the father will need to file what is known as a paternity action. Once filed, the petition is served through the appropriate channels to the mother of the child or children. At the same time, the father will need to obtain appropriate child parenting time and child custody by filing and serving a request for order of such with the court.

When Parents Have A Custody Order

In these circumstances, a father may have several options. please note this list is not exhaustive or all-inclusive.

  • Following communication between the father and the mother, a violation that has been documented may result in an attempt at the parents achieving a private resolution without further intervention from the court.
  • A father can attempt to show cause against the mother by the filing of a contempt order with the purpose of providing evidence that Mother’s conduct violated existing court orders.
  • A father may make a determination he wishes the court to seek a parenting time or modification of child custody order. Depending on the severity of the violations the mother has inflicted on her child or children will be a material factor in the decision of the father to pursue not only the sole physical custody of a child or children but also consideration should be given to whether the father also wants to obtain sole legal custody of the child or children.

Is The Custody order From A Judgment?

The options mentioned above are applicable if the father has a custody order following a final judgment. That said, if a father seeks a modification of legal custody or seeks significant change to parenting time, he usually has to justify this to demonstrate why this will be in the best interest of the child or children. This should not be a struggle if the misconduct and poor behavior of the mother of the child or children is of a serious nature to give reason the mother should lose custody of the child or children.

Next Steps

When fathers have to deal with mothers who are being very unreasonable and even malicious when the father is trying his utmost to fulfill and take seriously his responsibilities as a father, he should, without delay, seek intervention from a court. There is no doubt the life and wellbeing of your child and/or children are fully worth your effort and time. To not act, risks your child or children being further exposed to a destructive, unhealthy or unsafe environment that may have a negative and lasting impact on their current and future lives.

Speak with Our Father’s Rights Attorneys In Scottsdale

Our Father’s Rightschild custody, and guardianship attorneys in Phoenix and Scottsdale address your case with concern and personal attention, and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

We are experienced family law attorneys and will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. You can trust us to represent you fully, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation!

*This information is not intended to be used as legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

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