8 Reasons Parents Can Lose Custody
If you and your ex are dealing with a custody matter, you might be worried about losing time with your children, or potentially losing custody altogether. Thankfully, courts are usually hesitant to award sole custody to one parent over the other, but it can happen in certain circumstances.
Oregon courts favor co-parenting whenever possible because ample research has supported the theory that children thrive best when they can have relationships with both parents. Courts want to keep parents involved in their child’s life, so even if custody isn’t granted to both parents equally, the court will typically award visitation time to the noncustodial parent. However, not all children benefit from involvement with both parents in certain situations.
In some cases, parents can lose custody, and if this happens, there are things you can do to support your own case.
Common Reasons a Parent Can Lose Custody of Children
As a rule, the court only takes custody and visitation away from a parent in extreme situations, such as if there is evidence of abuse or an environment that is harmful to the well-being of the child.
1. Child Abuse or Neglect
Child abuse is one of the leading reasons parents may lose time with their children, especially if they were convicted for that crime. However, even if there were no criminal charges, evidence of abuse might be enough to prevent the court from giving that parent custodial rights.
2. Spousal Abuse or Domestic Violence
Even if the parent has never harmed a child, if they have a record of domestic violence or spousal abuse, they could be deemed a danger to their child, resulting in a loss of custody. This is especially true in cases where the child’s other parent was the victim.
3. Substance Abuse
Parents dealing with active substance abuse problems, like drug addiction or alcoholism, may not be allowed to spend time with their children. Substance abuse can make people unpredictable and unreliable, which may cause the court to refuse an addict any parenting time. However, even if the parent is a recovering addict, their previous afflictions could harm their chances of receiving custody.
4. Violation of Court Orders
Court orders are legally binding, so if a parent refuses to follow those orders, the court may be hesitant to allow that parent to take on more responsibilities with their child. For example, a parent might have ignored a previous visitation order by alienating the other parent and refusing to allow him or her their due parenting time. As a result, the court could take away future custody privileges.
5. Child Abduction
Some parents believe they are protecting their children by removing them from their other parent’s lives, but to do so against court orders can be considered child abduction. If the other parent still has parental rights or has full or joint custody of the child, taking the child away is a form of abduction, even though you are the child’s parent.
6. Lack of Parental Involvement
If a parent has no existing relationship with their child, the court may be hesitant to award custody. For instance, a father might not have known about his child for the first 5 years of her life, which means he has not had a chance to know her and therefore is a virtual stranger to his own child. In general, courts usually encourage parents to get to know their children, perhaps through visitation. However, to allow a parent to have custody of a child they barely know might be more difficult on the child than necessary.
7. Mental or Physical Illness
If a parent is physically unable to care for their child, either because of a physical or psychiatric illness, the court will hesitate to grant that parent custody in any form. Unfortunately, these situations cannot be helped, but the court will aim to make a fair decision based on what is best for the child. Many parents are able to live with a mental or physical illness and provide their children with wonderful care, but serious issues can prevent parents from providing the type of care their children need.
8. False Allegations
In some cases, parents might make false accusations towards the other parent in an attempt to get their way in court. For example, a father might accuse the mother of child abuse so that he can gain full custody. When these types of situations occur and the allegations turn out to be false, the court might refuse to allow the accuser to regain custody.
Child custody is a very sensitive topic, especially if you are facing the possibility of losing custody of your child altogether. If you are dealing with a custody issue and need legal help, our firm is here for you.Contact McKinley Irvin at our Oregon office to meet with our knowledgeable family law lawyers.