Almost every parent is entitled to child custody either at the time of birth or upon establishing paternity. There’s no guarantee that you will retain custody forever, though.
Understanding the situations that can put your custodial rights in jeopardy is important. It’s often the best way to avoid problems, particularly if you’re divorced or separated from your co-parent.
Exposing your child to domestic violence, abuse or neglect
Domestic violence or abuse can result in you losing your custodial rights or having to do supervised visitation with your child. This is true whether you are accused of the violence or it comes from someone else within your household — even when the violence isn’t directed at your child.
Allegations of neglect, especially if they involve leaving your child home alone for extended periods, not maintaining a hygienic environment or feeding them unhealthy meals, can result in a judge limiting your custodial rights as well.
Violating custody orders and the terms of your parenting plan
The court expects you to follow the parenting plan in your case at all times. A court may deprive you of custody of your kids if you fail to adhere to it by not returning your kids promptly as per the schedule or traveling outside of the area with them without your ex’s prior permission.
You need to put any agreement that deviates from your original parenting plan with your ex in writing. It’s always best to have a judge sign off on it as well.
Substance abuse or criminal convictions
A judge’s sole responsibility is to make decisions that they deem to be in the best interests of your kids. The court is unlikely to leave your children under your care if you develop drug or alcohol dependency. They may take recent arrest on criminal charges as being reflective of your inability to exhibit sound judgment enough to raise your child.
Could you lose custody of your kids?
The three factors described above are just some of the many reasons why a judge may deprive you of custody of your kids. You may find it helpful to discuss your situation with an attorney before any court hearings in your case. It may make all the difference in whether you’re able to retain custody of your kids or not.