How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child?

How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child?

Losing custody of a child is a miserable experience for any parent. Going through a divorce can be a huge source of stress for a mother and a father. In past decades, it was common for mothers to be granted custody of their children in a divorce. Fathers permitted for “visitation.”

So the father can have children on weekends or for one evening a week. Those rules and regulations reflected the prevailing gender roles of the times, which consider mothers as caregivers and fathers as the producer of the family. But this has been changed now. A mother also can lose custody of her child.

So, how can a mother lose custody of her child? There are many reasons for a mother to lose her child’s custody. Child abuse, violating the court order, illicit behavior, and serious negligence may cause losing custody. And also, if the father proves before the court that the mother is unfit to provide the best interest for the child, the mother will not be given the child’s custody. Apart from that, serious physical or mental illnesses, drug addiction or alcoholism, and mother’s violence are reasons for losing custody.

It is noteworthy that a mother’s ability to become a natural parent goes beyond the lengths of providing the child’s material needs.

I have listed the topics below that I discuss in this post. Feel free to jump straight to the one you are interested in. Let’s get started!

What can cause a mother to lose custody?

It is common when mistakes happen by a mother, as no parent is perfect. That is the nature of “Motherhood.” But there are causes of how can a mother to lose the custody of a child. This opens an investigation against the parent who has the custody.

Below mention causes depict how can a mother lose custody of her child.

Physical abuse of the child

If a mother physically abuses her child and child protective services received a complaint, custody of the child could be revoked.

They remove the child from the physically abusive home or the living environment and provide temporary custody to the child’s father or a close family member.

And suppose the child’s father requests sole legal and physical custody of the child by proving the physical abuses done by the mother. In that case, the mother will lose her rights to custody.


Neglecting the child is one of the main causes of losing custody. Neglecting can take place through the ways of not providing food, shelter, clothes, and education, etc. This affects the child’s health, safety, and wellbeing.

Violation of a court order

Violating a court order is another cause for a mother to lose custody of her child. Not allowing the father to spend time with the child and violating the parenting plan ordered by the court cause for this.

What would be considered an unfit mother?

Being an unfit mother will cause the court to limit the interaction between the mother and the child. A mother who fails to provide proper guidance, care, or support is known as an unfit mother.

Also, if the mother is abusive, neglecting the child, she will be unfit. Following are reasons that make an unfit mother.

Lack of social functioning

The child needs to have social activities with the parents, friends, or neighbors. It leads to positive interactions and memories. If the mother is against these activities, this can have a negative effect on the child.

Also, suppose a mother has any social issues, such as staying all the time indoors and refusing to speak with neighbors. In that case, she will be an unfit mother.

Not understanding and Responding to the Child’s Needs

A mother should be sensitive to the needs of the child. A child needs to feel heard and cared for by his mother even he does not speak. It is important the child feels safe, and they can communicate with the mother whenever they want.

Mother can use a way that child can understand. These are all important characteristics of a strong mother-child relationship. If a mother does not understand and respond to the child’s needs, she will be unfit.

Psychiatric Illness

Suppose the mother suffers from a psychiatric illness. In that case, she will be an unfit mother because that can affect the child both physically and mentally for his lifetime. But this issue does not make a mother completely unfit.

If she wants to avoid being an unfit mother, she has to prove that she take treatments properly and a good progression of the disease. Suppose a parent is active in their mental health treatment and medication, which is a positive for everyone, including the child.

However, if they are not treating their mental health issues, it can be a hazardous situation and consider unfit parents.

How can a mother lose custody of her child?

There are many reasons how can a mother can lose custody of her child. However, these allegations are not taken lightly by the court and cause to change the custody of the child to another party.

Child abuse

The main reason to lose custody is child abuse. If a mother is proven to have physically and or psychologically abused her child, she will lose custody.

Examples of physical abuses;

  • hitting
  • kicking
  • scratching
  • biting
  • burning,
  • sexual abuse

Some psychological abuses;

  • rejecting the child
  • ridiculing
  • humiliating the child
  • abandonment
  • isolating a child
  • preventing them from socializing with others
  • exploiting
  • manipulating
  • ignoring

When a child is unable to communicate the psychological abuse done by the mother, child psychologists, social workers will look for social and behavioral signs of abuse.

These include difficulties in school, eating disorders, sleeping issues, depression, anxiety, anger management problems, etc.

When the court receives evidence of a mother’s abusive behaviors, it will cause her to lose custody.  

Serious neglect

Neglecting is another primary way how can a mother can lose custody of her child. The mother should provide the basic needs of the child, mainly including access to health and education.

Child neglect is in the forms: not providing a proper shelter, not keeping your child clean and well-groomed, not supervising your child, and not taking your child to important scheduled appointments, etc.

Children who are left to use their own devices may probably be exposed to danger or threats to their safety. Also, they can contract a disease and are at a higher risk of developing mental illness.

Forgetting a doctor’s appointment on a busy day, unable to buy new clothes every month will not make a mother lose her custody. This only focuses on serious long-term neglecting issues.

Drug and alcohol abuse

If a mother is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it will cause her custody canceled. When a mother has these addictions, the court doubts her physical and mental health and the ability to care for her children properly.

Moreover, children of drug addicts and or alcoholic mothers have a higher risk of neglecting, being abused, and imitating their parent’s behavior by picking up similar bad habits and end up being alcoholics or drug addicts from their childhood.

Failure to commit to parental responsibilities

Mother is a caregiver and a lover to her child. So she can raise her child genuinely. However, suppose she is not at home always, working multiple jobs, or being very busy for 24 hours in 365 days. In that case, it can put her custodial rights at risk.

So a mother should make changes in her lifestyle or make work arrangements. It will help to have more time to spend with children and avoid losing custody of her child.

Can a good mom lose custody of her child?

Good moms also lose custody for several reasons. Here are three of the most common reasons how can a mother can lose custody of her child:

Not permitting father’s access or visitation with the child

The child wants love and affection from both mother and father. And if the parents are divorced, another parent will have time to spend time with the child.

Especially when the mother got custody of the child, the court hopes to see how the mother actively supports the child’s relationship with his father and how she encourages that relationship to develop.

This can be done only child’s father wants to be involved. If the mother works as a barrier to developing this relationship, it will be a risk to lose her custody.

Suppose the father asks for time to meet his child, and the mother doesn’t want to give it by mentioning that she has other plans. In that case, she may not feel comfortable, or the child isn’t old enough, and it happens over and over and over again, the father gets fed up. So he may file for custody.

A mother cannot unreasonably deny the father’s access to the child. If the court ensures that the father works harder, the mother could risk losing custody.

The reason for this is that a mom is holding on to her child too tightly. But, courts don’t want to see this, and it’s a way often good moms lose custody.

They make an enemy of the GAL

Many mothers complain that: “The Guardian ad litem hated me” because they hate him. It is important to remember that Guardians ad litem aren’t helping to make new friends. They are there to help make a recommendation to the judge regarding custody and visitation.

So, they’re not mothers’ best friends. Most probably, they may barely know the mother and her kid. One of the biggest mistakes a mother make is that she treats the GALs poorly.

But working fine with the GAL is key to success in a custody case. Messing up that relationship can be a huge problem, especially when it comes time for the GAL to file the written recommendation to the court.

They try to represent themselves at their custody trial

A person can represent themselves at the court. It’s allowed. Litigation is a difficult task. Skill for it should learn over years and years of practicing. Especially they should have a practice in emotional control.

It may be difficult for a mother to stay calm and control emotions since custody of her kids are at stake at this particular trial. Custody cases are complicated, and a good mother can lose her custody by this mistake.

What is considered unsafe living conditions for a child?

A child should have a peaceful and healthy environment to grow. Mainly, parents should satisfy the child’s basic needs: shelter, clean water, food, etc.

And the houses that poisonous materials, convicted sex offenders, temperature extremes, or dangerous objects are unsafe for a child. Living in an unsafe environment is another way how can a mother can lose custody of her child.

Exposing child to a risk of harm

The risk of harm occurs because of parent behavior, such as exposing the child to criminal activity, producing illicit drugs, selling weapons, etc.

And also, the risk of harm includes the actions like leaving a child in a car unattended or denying a child medical attention when needed, etc.

All these factors are age-dependent. Leaving a teenager alone in a house for few hours not the same as leaving a toddler in the same place for few hours.

Family violence in the home

Family violence and a child witnessing physical violence on one parent by the other parent or another person in the household make an unsafe living condition for a child.

Verbal and physical abuse, threats, torture, and isolation are common forms of family violence. This can be suffered by the child or become a witness.

Neglect the child

The most common type of child maltreatment makes an unsafe living condition for a child. It can be categorized into four main categories:

  • Physical neglect: This occurs when a child is underprivileged for food, clothing, shelter.
  • Medical neglect: Failure to provide a child with these necessary medical treatments.
  • Educational neglect: Failure to provide a child with proper education.
  • Emotional neglect: Failure to provide for a child’s emotional needs and provide adequate psychosocial support.


This article depicts how can a mother lose custody of her child. Even a mother who loves her child unconditionally can lose custody of the child due to simple mistakes. And even if a mother has custody of her children, it doesn’t mean that the court decision that favors the mother is irreversible.

Therefore, it is important to never commit any of the mistakes by mothers. But when you are doing your fullest to be a good mother, and you aren’t guilty of any type of abuse, then you are on the right side of the law!

Thank you for reading. Stay tuned with BestFamilyLife for more good content.

Similar Posts