Many still believe that the court has a "bias" that favors mothers in custody case. But the truth is, any custodial parent (mother or father) who engages in misconduct can lose custody of their child. The court rules in favor of the child's best interest. Thus, if the mother of child is a custodial parent and engages in behavior that endangers a child's well-being, the court may strip that mother of her custody rights. So the real question isn't "how can a mother lose custody of her child?" but more "how can any custodial parent lose their custody rights?" However, for the purposes of this article, we'll stick to the theme of the mother losing her child's custody. Below, we examine what types of misconduct can lead to lost custody, as well as how you can expose that misconduct to the court.

Top 5 Reasons Why Mothers Lose Custody

  1. Physical abuse against the child or father
  2. Emotional abuse against the child (this includes parental alienation)
  3. Child neglect
  4. Overt frustration with a father's parenting time
  5. Violating a court order

Physical Abuse

A mother may lose custody if she engages in physical abuse against a child. Here is how you can prove that physical abuse exists:
  1. Report the physical abuse to law enforcement and have them take appropriate action.
  2. Report the abuse to social services, such as child protective services. They will open a case and investigate your allegations. Child protective services have the authority to remove children from physically abusive homes and give custody to the non-abusive parent temporarily.
  3. File a request for order with the court that details a mother's abusive misconduct to the court. In this request you'll usually ask the court for sole physical and legal custody, as well as ask for supervised visitation for the abusive mother.
California law requires reporters to report any cases of suspected abuse. If you're aware or reasonably aware of your child's mother's abusive behavior, you must report her behavior. Failing to take proper action will only reflect poorly on you.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse comes in many different forms, but the most common types include the following:
  1. Verbal abuse from a mother to her child: such as badgering, belittling, or disparaging a child.
  2. Purposeful parental alienation: when a mother intentionally prevents a child from seeing the father.
  3. Withholding emotional support or love from the child: this usually harder to prove than other forms of emotional abuse.


No parent is perfect. Because of that, there is no standard of "perfect parenting" in the California Family Code. However, there is a big difference between making a mistake and consistently exercising poor judgement. Child neglect can lead to a mother losing in child custody if she continuously makes decisions that endanger the general well-being of her child.

How to Take Custody of a Child Away from an Unfit Mother

Taking custody away from an unfit mother depends on whether a child custody order is in effect or not.

Steps for Parents Without a Child Custody Order

If you're a father married to your child's mother and have yet to file for divorce, you can decide whether the situation is severe enough that you can move forward with dissolving the marriage or petitioning for legal separation. Regardless of whether you are married or not, you can take the following steps to obtain custody of your child:
  1. Document every instance of the mother's misconduct, as well as make efforts to reach a resolution to stop the misconduct.
  2. If the mother continues her misconduct, then consult a family law attorney as soon as possible.
  3. If you decide to move forward with divorce or legal separation, then file a request for order asking the court for parenting time or custody.

Steps for Parents With a Custody Order

Here are your options if there is a custody order already in place:
  1. Talk to the mother, document her misconduct, and attempt to resolve the issue.
  2. File a contempt order against the mother to show she violated any court order.
  3. File a request for order asking the court for a modification in parenting time or custody order.

How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child? Ask a Fresno Family Law Attorney

You child is worth the time and effort to protect them. If the mother of your child is engaging in reckless behavior that endangers your child, it's important to see the intervention of the court. Consult an experienced Fresno child custody attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today to learn more.
Categories: Child Custody