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How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child?

How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child?

Who gets custody of a child — the mother or the father — is based on what’s considered to be the “best interest” of the child. Ohio courts gather a variety of information to determine what that “best interest” includes.

Some of the factors they’ll consider are the:

When a parent requests sole custody, the court will sometimes follow the “better parent” standard. This means the court will need to be convinced that one parent is better than the other. Because of this, there are certain factors that can make one parent look worse than the other, including the below:

Drug Use and Possession

One of the main ways mothers often lose custody of their child(ren) is by breaking the law — usually through drug use and possession. This is especially true if the drug or substance abuse puts the child’s life at risk (like through drunk driving). Drug use and possession creates an unsafe environment for the child and can deem the mother unfit.

Child Abuse or Neglect

Abuse of any form is unacceptable and will automatically compel the court to grant custody to someone else. This goes for anyone living under the same roof as the mother, too. For example, if another family member residing in the home is abusive towards the child, and the mother doesn’t remove that person from the home, she could lose custody.

Domestic Violence

Any kind of violence in the home is a negative factor when the court is deciding who should have custody of the child. Whether the violence is against the child or someone else doesn’t matter. It is the mother’s job to protect her child, and allowing someone to stay in the home who is violent is not doing so. The court will see this as a risk to the child’s well-being.

Violating Court Orders

Keeping the child away from the other parent when the court sets up co-parenting visitation schedules can also cause a mother to lose custody. Even if she is alienating her child because of abuse or neglect from the other parent, this can actually backfire. The abusive co-parent can go to the court and claim parental alienation, which can get them custody of the child. Another example is failing to comply with a restraining order, or being uncooperative with co-parenting in general.

Physical or Mental Health Issues

If a mother has a physical or mental health issue that stops her from providing proper care to the child, she could lose custody. For example, if the mother has attempted suicide in the past or has any type of severe mental illness, the court may deem her unfit to have custody, and instead provide it to the co-parent.

Failure to cooperate with Guardian Ad Litem

In contested custody cases the Court will often appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the interests of the child(ren), conduct an investigation and file a written recommendation with the Court.  Parents who don’t cooperate in this process can and do lose custody of their children.

Remember: Among married couples, fathers and mothers have the same rights for child custody regardless of their genders — at least until there is a court order that maintains otherwise. That means fathers have just as much of a chance of gaining custody as the mother.

It also means that while all of the above are major reasons a mother can lose custody of her child, they also apply to fathers. The court will look for verification that none of these factors exist, and if they find any, they will take them seriously. After all, the best interests of the child are at stake.

Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer

The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC [1] is honored to work with both traditional and non-traditional families to assist them through extraordinarily difficult times. Please contact us [2] with any questions.