Divorce can be messy, especially if you have children and assets to consider. There once was a time when the mothers automatically received sole custody simply because they were the mother, but those days are over. Approximately 50% of the custody cases today end with the father getting sole custody, so do not assume anything. Mothers can lose custody of their children. Here are the top reasons why.
First, all divorcing couples begin with joint custody rights. Judges make decisions based on the “best interest” of the child or children but joint custody is assumed until further information is gathered. Let’s look at the top five ways that a mother can lose custody.
- Child abuse or sexual abuse is the number one reason that a mother can lose custody of her child. Sometimes this comes in the form of “corporal punishment” such as spanking or other physical acts of punishing a child – there is a fine line between discipline and physical abuse. In a custody battle, a swat on the bottom may be interpreted by a spouse as true physical abuse, so be careful. (In addition, false accusations of abuse can also hurt your case). Verbal abuse is another form of abuse, screaming, threatening or making a child feel fear is an issue the courts will take seriously. If you accuse the father of abusing your child and it becomes known that you were lying, it can work against you so make sure to be credible with your accusations!) Credibility in court is paramount.
- Domestic violence is another reason a mother can lose custody. And yes, women can be abusers as well. Female abusers are on the rise so don’t assume that only men are capable of domestic abuse. Even if the mother abuses the father but not the children it still won’t look good in a custody battle.
- Substance abuse of any kind does is taken seriously in family court – drugs, alcohol, even cigarettes can be considered substance abuse. Even casual use of alcohol or drugs will make it more difficult to win custody. Charges such as reckless endangerment and DWIs are even more serious. Be prudent and stay out of trouble. The court will determine if any safety issues are present and will make appropriate decisions to protect children. Drinking and driving with a child will most likely make you lose custody even without the child in the car it is a very serious offense if it come to light in court. If you suffer from any addictions seek out the appropriate help.
- Child abduction is a common reason that a mother loses custody. If you take the child without the permission of the other parent, the judge will not look kindly on this – it will be considered child abduction. If you violate the terms of the custody agreement (you have to have the other parent’s permission) then you yourself can lose custody of your child. Abide by all court stipulations otherwise you will not look favorable to the court and will risk losing custody.
- The last reason a mother can lose custody of her child or children is by not being the primary caretaker or not being involved in her children’s lives prior to the divorce or custody hearing. This means you must know minute details about their school, teachers, extracurricular activities, health, hobbies, and the like. You must be intimately involved in your child or children’s lives and you must be able to demonstrate this in court. Frequently leaving your child in the custody of a babysitter, family member or friend when you are supposed to have visitation and spending time with the child could reflect negatively on you. The courts want you to spend your free time with the child.
If you are in need of documented proof to bring any of these issues to light in a courtroom, consider hiring a private investigator to uncover that information instead of doing it yourself. Darrin Giglio, lead investigator and owner of North American PI, agrees that a professional investigation and surveillance can be beneficial in winning custody cases.
As Giglio says, “ I have seen may clients attempt to be their own investigators only to have it backfire on them, when you are dealing with court you are much better off when a non-bias professional licensed investigator to obtain evidence for your case” he additionally stated “In court, evidence is key, especially legally obtained evidence which proves any accusation, all day long the court hears he said she said but they are more concerned with evidence than claims”
An investigation can determine people’s patterns, where they go, who they spend time with, and whether they are involved in illegal or illicit activities (such as gambling, drug abuse, reckless driving, drunk driving, alcoholism, criminal behavior or any other negative behaviors that might make them unsuitable as parents). It’s worth the investment in order to protect your children and custodial rights.