Can a Mother Lose Custody for Not Having a Job?

When you are getting a divorce, it can get messy if there is a child and marital assets to think about. In the past, a mother would automatically receive sole custody of their child for simply being the mother, but times have changed. 

Today, fathers are receiving sole custody of their child in about fifty percent of all child custody cases. Therefore, it is best to never assume anything.  Mothers can and do lose custody of their child in today’s courts, and there are many reasons why. 

Can a Mother Lose Custody for Not Having A Job?

The simple answer is no. If you were a stay-at-home mom during your marriage, it should not have an impact on being the main residential parent of your child.  However, the court may suggest that you are going to have to look into getting a job eventually. Many courts believe that both parents are obligated to support their child.

If you are contemplating divorce with a child involved, you should talk to a family law attorney. Then you can take the necessary steps to ensure you and your child are cared for financially through alimony and/or child support. 

What Are the Top Reasons a Mother Can Lose Custody of Her Child?

Generally, if you are getting a divorce, you will begin by having joint custody. The courts make any custody decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child. However, joint custody is only assumed until the court is able to gather more information.  

We have already established that a mother cannot lose custody of her child for not having a job. That being said, here are five top reasons a mother can lose custody of her child…

1. Sexual Abuse and/or Child Abuse:  If you physically punish your child, it is important to note that there is a fine line between discipline and physical child abuse in the court’s eyes. 

If you become involved in a custody battle, a mere spanking could be portrayed by your ex as physical abuse.  If you or your ex falsely accuse each other of sexual abuse or child abuse, that will harm your chances of receiving custody of your child. 

Additionally, the court looks down on verbal abuse. If you scream and/or threaten your child in a way that makes them fearful, the court will take it extremely seriously. 

2. Domestic Abuse: Women can be spousal abusers just as easily as men, although men are less likely to report it than women. If you abused your husband but not your children during your marriage, the court will not look at you favorably. 

3. Alcohol/Drug Abuse: Family courts take any type of substance abuse extremely seriously. Even if you only use alcohol, you will be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to child custody. 

4. Child Abductions: If you take your child without having the permission of the other parent, the court may construe it as a child abduction. Additionally, if you violate any of the terms outlined in your custody agreement without the other parent’s permission, you could lose custody of your child. 

5. Not Being the Primary Caregiver during Marriage:  If you were not involved in your child’s life or were not the primary caregiver before you got divorced, you could lose custody of your child. You must know who their teachers are and what their extracurricular activities and hobbies are.

Can the Father of My Child Get Custody if He Makes More Money Than I Do? 

This question goes back to the original question: Can a mother lose custody for not having a job? It is important to keep in mind that custody is not determined by whether you have a job. Instead, it  is determined by what type of custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. 

While the parent who makes more money may be able to give your child more opportunities, it is generally not enough to have an impact on child custody. Furthermore, if the father makes more money than you and has a child, he should offer the opportunities to his child, whether or not he has custody. 

Can My Child Custody Be Affected if I Am An Exotic Dancer?

If your job has a direct impact on your child, yes. But as long as you do not expose your child to inappropriate situations or allow people who could be a bad influence to be around your child, you should be fine. 

What about Our Job Schedules and Custody?

Again, this question is similar to the original question: Can a mother lose custody for not having a job?  The answer is no.  The court does not assume that one parent is better than the other parent, whether or not they are working. 

The court is going to look at all the factors and circumstances and make a decision it believes is in the best interest of your child.  Job schedules can be important factors in the court’s decision. 

You should talk to your family law attorney about the situation and work schedules. That way, you and your ex may be able to come up with a plan that works for everybody.

Can a Shared Parenting Plan Work if the Father Has an Erratic Schedule?

In this type of situation, you and the father of your child need to cooperate with each other. You could work together to build a schedule that fits in with his erratic work schedule. 

Can I Get a Joint Custody Plan that Revolves Around the Father’s Work Schedule?

Sometimes, work schedules can be disruptive for children and custody. It can be difficult for the children, and it can make school rather difficult. If you and your ex can come up with a schedule that says these days are mine and these days are yours, it will bring more stability into your child’s life. 

If I Am Not Working, Do I Have to Put My Child in Daycare?

For many stay-at-home moms, this question creates a huge dilemma. It also goes back to the question: Can a mother lose custody for not having a job? If you are not working, there is no need to send your child to daycare if you do not want to. The family courts normally want the child to spend time with the parents. 

Should a Mother Get Custody of Her Child if the Father Works the Night Shift?

Just because the father of your child works the night shift, that does not make him an unfit parent any more than a mother who doesn’t have a job. The question you have to ask yourself is: What is in the best interest of your child? Custody cases are extremely complex, and you have to look at what your ex’s schedule was when the order was first put into place. If it was the same, then going to court to have custody changed could be an uphill battle.


When it comes to child custody and working, it can be tricky.  One of the most common questions mothers worry about is: Can a mother lose custody for not having a job?  

As you can see, the answer is no. Even if you are working, there are many factors that determine child custody and parenting schedules. It is important that you and your ex work together to come up with a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your child.

Perhaps you and your ex are not able to come to an agreement, and work schedules have changed. If so, you can file a motion in family court to modify  the child custody plan outlined in your divorce.  However, keep in mind that the court will always do what they believe to be in the best interest of your child.