8 Reasons A Mother Can Lose Custody Of Her Child

Many people assume that the courts generally favor the mother when deciding custody. However, this is a myth and a misconception that has been proven wrong time and time again. The truth is that the courts are granting custody to fathers more and more, and this trend is expected to continue. 

If you are a mom who has custody of your child, your ex may be able to reverse the court’s decision and revoke your custody rights based upon a certain set of circumstances. In fact, the reason you could lose custody of your child is almost always preventable.

How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child? 

There are numerous ways a mother can lose custody of her child, but there must be solid evidence for a court to reconsider custody. While many of the below reasons may sound like basic common sense, many mothers just like you have had their custody revoked every year due to one or more of the following:

  1. Physical Abuse Against Your Child or Ex: Many people wrongly assume that women are less likely to inflict physical abuse on their child or ex. However, if you have been kicking, scratching, burning, hitting, or inflicting any type of physical abuse on your child, your ex has the right to file for a change of custody in court. 

Your ex can hire a family attorney who will file with the court asking for an investigation and to award your ex sole custody of your child. If that occurs, you may be given supervised visitation rights. However, if Child Protective Services or a police report is filed against you, it will make your fight to keep your child even more difficult. 

In addition, if you physically abuse your ex, you may lose custody of your child, especially if your ex has filed a restraining order against you. 

  1. Emotional Abuse of Your Child: Emotionally abusing your child may be a little more difficult for your ex to prove in court, but it can be done and can be a very effective way for your ex to gain custody of your child.  

If you are almost constantly belittling your child or harassing your child, that is considered emotional abuse. Your ex will have a much better case if they can call witnesses who’ve seen you emotionally abuse your child. 

  1. Parental Alienation: How can a mother lose custody of her child? Parental alienation is quickly becoming recognized by the courts in many states as a form of emotional abuse. 

If you try to manipulate your child or lie to your child into hating their other parent, this is considered to be emotional abuse. This is especially true if your children are young and impressionable. Any type of alienating behavior that you engage in with your child could land you in court and you could lose custody of your child. 

  1. Parenting Time Interference: If your ex already has partial custody of your child, you could lose your custody rights if you interfere with your ex’s parenting time consistently. This type of behavior could involve such things as making it hard for your ex to visit his child, intentionally scheduling other activities during your ex’s parenting time, and engaging in any other activity that keeps your child away from their father. 

If your ex keeps detailed records about each time you have sabotaged his visitation rights, this can and will be used against you in court, and you could lose custody. 

  1. Violation of a Court’s Order: Violating the court’s orders is one of the most common ways a mother can lose her child. There are a few ways in which a mother can violate the court’s orders. 

For example, if the court ordered shared custody and you don’t comply with it, this can be considered interfering with parenting time. Other common types of court order violations include, but aren’t limited to: abuse, not caring for your child like you agreed upon and/or instructed, and failing to comply with a restraining order. 

  1. Any Form of Neglect: Neglect can be hard to prove in court, but it definitely can and has been done. If you don’t care for your child properly, other people will notice. If you consistently neglect your child, this may be enough for a judge to reconsider his custody order. 
  1. Bad Co-Parenting: If you and your ex have made an agreement to co-parent your child, but your child is suffering when they are with you, your ex can petition the court for a change of custody. 

For example, if you don’t have proper rules in place for your child, this could encourage your child to fail in school or perhaps turn to abusing drugs and/or alcohol. If this happens, you could lose custody of your child. 

  1. Drug/Alcohol Abuse and/or Addiction: If you are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, this will give your ex enough to have your custody rights terminated by the court. This is especially true if you drive drunk with your child in the car. 

Steps to Take Custody Away From the Mother

If you are a father and wondering how a mother can lose custody of her child, the truth is that it depends on whether there is a child custody order in place. Let’s look at a few scenarios:

If You Are Married with No Custody Order. If you and your spouse are still married, your spouse has every right to decide if the situation should proceed to a divorce or separation.

However, in the meantime, there is a process in place for a father to get a child custody order without seeking a divorce or separation. If you are a father in this situation, you should:

  1. Document the child’s mother’s misconduct and make any effort to come to a solution that stops the behavior.
  2. If your child’s mother doesn’t stop the misconduct, you should consult with an attorney. 
  3. If you decide to seek a divorce or separation, you should have your attorney file a request with the court for child custody.

If You Are Unmarried and Don’t Have a Child Custody Order: If you are a father and not married to your child’s mother, your attorney will need to file a parentage petition. 

After this petition is filed with the court, you should serve the petition on your child’s mother or hire a process server to do this for you to avoid any unpleasant confrontation in front of your child. At the same time, you should file for and serve a request for an order that seeks child custody and parenting time. 

If You Have A Child Custody Order in Place: If there is already a child custody order in place, then as a father wondering how a mother can lose custody of her child, you should do the following:

  1. Talk to the mother of your child, document the violation, and try to resolve it without getting the courts involved.
  1. File a contempt order to show cause against your child’s mother if her behavior violated the court order.
  1. You can request an order asking the court for a modification of the child custody order or parenting time order. The more serious the mother’s violation, the more likely you should seek sole custody of your child. 

If Your Custody Order Is a Temporary Order: If you have a temporary order, you have the same options available to you as if you had a custody order in place. You only need to show the court that a modification of the current custody order is in your child’s best interest. 

If Your Custody Order Is From a Judgment: You still have all the options available to you because a child custody order is included in your judgment. 

However, if you want to modify legal custody or change the parenting time significantly, you will need to show a very significant change in circumstances to the court and be able to show why this change would be in your child’s best interest.


How can a mother lose custody of her child? As you can see, it takes some work, but you must always act in the best interest of your child.  

If you allow the mother of your child to continuously violate a court order, all that does is let her think that the court orders are only a suggestion and that she doesn’t have to follow them. Doing nothing accomplishes nothing. The longer you allow the mother of your child to get away with her behavior, the harder it may be for you to convince the court that you are taking the situation seriously and trying to act in your child’s best interest.