How Can a Parent Lose Custody of Their Child?

How Can a Parent Lose Custody of Their Child?

How Can a Parent Lose Custody of Their Child?

Custody is a challenging aspect of family law, as parents want a connection with their children, and children want a connection with their parents. Generally, the courts try to honor those desires for connection in their custody rulings. They want to give parents as close to even roles in their child’s life as possible. However, the guiding principle of the courts is the child’s interests. This means that there are some things a parent may do which are considered so harmful to the child’s welfare that custody must be taken from the parent. If issues like this are a concern with either yourself or the other parent, it’s important to talk with an experienced child custody attorney who can help you understand your options.

Things That Can Lead to A Loss of Custody

There are a variety of things that may cause a parent to lose custody of a child. This could only be a temporary loss and may still include visitation rights depending on the severity of the situation. Some of the things that could lead to a loss of custody include:

  • Child Abuse – Abuse of a child could be physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological. Any abuse that can be proven is very likely to lead to a loss of custody. The abuse need not come directly from the parent either, and it could be a failure to protect the child from the parent’s new romantic partner.
  • Neglect – Neglect is often a failure to take care of the child’s health, safety, and well-being. This is obviously not in the child’s interests and can be cause for a custody change.
  • Domestic Violence – Exposure to domestic violence places kids in a dangerous situation and can be detrimental to their development.
  • Substance Abuse or Addiction – A parent who is addicted or abuses substances can be erratic and unrecognizable. A child’s development can also be harmed by exposure to these situations.
  • Severe Mental Health Issues – If a parent’s mental health issues can be shown to put a child’s well-being at risk, then it may be grounds for a custody change.
  • Violation of a Court Order – Things like not honoring another parent’s visitation time are taken very seriously by the court and could lead to a loss of custody.

How Can a Parent Lose Custody of Their Child?


Q: What Kinds of Custody are Awarded in California?

A: Custody in California is awarded in whatever the court believes will serve the child’s interests. There are two categories of custody and two descriptions of parental custodial involvement. They are:

  • Physical Custody – These are rulings regarding where the child will spend their time and live and if, when, and how they will have visitation with a parent not awarded physical custody.
  • Legal Custody – These are rulings regarding who is involved in decision-making for the child’s upbringing.
  • Sole Custody – This is when one of the parents is given all custodial rights.
  • Joint Custody – This is when the two parents will have to share the custody in question.

In California, the courts would generally like to create as even a split in regard to custody as possible. However, it is understood that this cannot always be the case. In particular, joint physical custody can be difficult to arrange, so it is not uncommon for the court to award sole physical custody to one parent while maintaining joint legal custody.

Q: What’s the Process for Changing Custody in California?

A: It is possible to change custody arrangements in California. Generally, this process is done through a modification of the original agreement. Don’t be fooled by the term, as a modification can include sweeping changes such as taking sole custody away from one parent and giving it to another. In order to reopen the custody ruling for a potential modification, the court must first have a reason to do so. This is typically some sort of significant change that requires consideration. It could be a change in the child, such as a dip in school performance and behavior. An issue with the custodial parent, such as the development of a drug problem, could lead to reopening. It could even be that a job change with the non-custodial parent has led to them having more ability to potentially take on shared physical custody.

Q: If You Lose Custody, Will You Still Have Visitation Rights?

A: It depends on the situation. The courts generally do not want to cut a parent out of the child’s life if it can be avoided. So, visitation may still be possible even if you’ve lost custody. Depending upon the reason that custody was lost, the court may order that any visitation must be supervised. This would occur if they felt it wasn’t in the child’s interest to spend time alone with you. If, though, the problem that led to the loss of custody is egregious enough, then it can lead to a temporary suspension of all interaction with the child or even a loss of all parental rights.

Q: What’s the Difference Between Losing Custody and Losing Parental Rights?

A: A loss of custody does not mean that a parent is still not legally recognized as the parent of the child. Generally, the non-custodial parent is still allowed visitation rights with the child, even if they may be supervised. If the concern that led to a loss of custody is temporary, it is even possible that custody may be regained at some later time. Losing parental rights means no longer being legally recognized as the child’s parent in the eyes of the state. All rights to seeing the child and having a say in their upbringing are permanently revoked.

If You Need Help With Custody, Let Us Know

Custody rulings are often the most sensitive aspect of family law. Most every parent wants what’s healthiest for their kids and also wants the opportunity to spend time with them. So, custody situations, particularly if they involve one parent losing some level of custody, can be intense. It can be helpful, though, if you have an experienced lawyer ready to represent you and fight for your interests and for your child. If you need help with a custody situation, contact us today at Bickford Blado & Botros.



Feel Free to Contact Our Office with Any Questions


Contact Information