Some situations that lead to loss of custody of a child are obvious, but there are other, more subtle things that parents may do that can be detrimental to a child’s quality of life and viewed very unfavorably in a custody battle. This shouldn’t be read like a list of ways to avoid losing custody, however. It should be used as a guide to making sure a parent’s actions are always in the child’s best interest.
1. Untreated Drug Addiction
Part of the custody determination process is gauging a parent’s moral fitness, which can be called into question if the judge discovers that the parent has an untreated drug addiction. Some concerns will be the parent’s ability to make sound decisions and keep a safe home environment for the child. While many parents suffering from drug addiction absolutely love their children and mean well, finding a substance abuse rehab center should be a top priority if a loss of custody is on the line. Taking the initiative to improve one’s life and thus, the life of his or her child may show favorably on the judge.
2. Violating Existing Court Orders
Court orders can range from the minor and technical, to profound and willful. Let’s say a parent is often 10 or 15 minutes late to pick up the child for visitation. While this would certainly be annoying to the custodial parent, visitation times are just a technicality and violating them would probably not result in anything close to a loss of custody. However, a profound violation that involves major decisions in the child’s life may be grounds to lose custody, especially if such parameters were well drafted in the legal joint custody order. Some examples include changing the child’s school, making a major medical decision or traveling out-of-state without consulting with the custodial parent. A judge will still have to decide if the nature of the violations are isolated or willful and may settle on modifying the order instead of removing custody.
3. Making False Allegations of Child Abuse Against the Other Parent
While it is encouraged to lawfully report any child abuse you suspect may be happening, making a knowingly false allegation of child abuse against another parent in an effort to prevent lawful contact with the child is illegal and may be grounds for supervised visitations or even loss of custody. False allegations are a very serious matter and can cause stress on the child and further strain on the child’s family dynamic.
Neglect is a type of abuse that results from a “failure to take action” and can take many different forms. An extreme example of neglect is if a child falls and breaks their arm, never gets treated and grows up to have a permanent disability. More common signs of neglect include malnourishment, decaying teeth, tattered clothing or unkempt hair. While neglect isn’t easy to prove, especially in front of people that have never seen the child before in their worst state, the signs of neglect are easily witnessed by people that see the child often, such as close family members, teachers, doctors, and dentists. Their help would be needed to get the child to a safer place.
5. Parental Alienation
Parental Alienation is the attempt to completely isolate a child from the other parent. This is a type of psychological abuse where one parent uses their words and conduct to create a clear division and even hostility between the other parent and child. Parental alienation can have long-lasting psychological effects on the child. A parent that goes through these lengths to keep a child and other parent divided can lose custody.
Remember, fostering a child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being is the top priority. Don’t let anything get in the way of that.