When the marriage ends in a divorce, and subject to the circumstances of the case, the court may award primary custody to one parent. There are even instances when a parent may lose custody of their child altogether.
The court takes the child’s best interests extremely seriously. Understanding child custody basics can help you avoid missteps that could put your rights as a parent in jeopardy. Here are some of the most common reasons that parents lose custody rights:
Abuse (physical, emotional and sexual) is, perhaps, one of the most common reasons to lose custody of a child. It’s important to remember that your custody can be affected even if the abuse isn’t directed at the child. For example, if you have a new spouse and they are physically violent to you in your child’s presence, that could ultimately affect your custody rights.
Drug or alcohol addiction
When a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, that can make them unfit to care for a child. If you have an untreated substance abuse problem, the court may consider you a danger to your child’s safety.
Violations of the custody order
A custody order is legally binding. Thus, if the court grants you primary custody and stipulates that the other parent is entitled to visitation, both parties must honor this. Abusing a custody order by withholding visitation or alienating the other parent from the child can justify a modification of the existing custody order in favor of the other parent.
Safeguarding your interests
As a parent, you are the most important person in your child’s life. Both society and the law recognize you as the best person to nurture, care for and raise your child. It’s important to protect those rights. If your fitness as a parent is in question, legal guidance can help.