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Common Reasons to Lose Child Custody

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Losing custody of a child is not something any parent wants to experience. Courts want to do what is best for the children, and, unfortunately, sometimes that means removing a child from a parent's care. Losing custody can be temporary or permanent depending on the reason. For parents going through a divorce, determining child custody is frequently the most important and contested part of their case.

However, for a court to decide that a child should be removed from a parent's custody, there must be a very compelling reason. The most common reasons parents lose custody includes abuse, neglect, domestic violence, drugs, and violating court orders.

Abuse, Neglect, Domestic Violence, Crime and Drugs

If a child has been abused or neglected by a parent, a court can order the child be taken away from their parent. If abuse is suspected by a medical professional, or other mandatory reporter, child protective services may be able to take your child away while waiting for a court to issue a formal order if they find evidence of abuse or neglect. Criminal charges can also be filed against parents if abuse or neglect is discovered.

If a parent is arrested or convicted on domestic violence charges, or another criminal charge, then a court can order that the child be taken into custody by CPS or the state. Generally, the crime must be something that convinces the court that it is not in the best interest of a child to remain with their parent. Sometimes, just a little bit of drugs will be enough if there is proof that the child is exposed to/present during drug use.

Violating Court Orders

On top of violations of the penal code (criminal conduct), children can be taken away for violating court orders. For divorced parents, or parents who are facing or have faced court proceedings regarding custody, there may be court orders in place that require a parent to take certain actions. These orders can include things like joint custody/co-parenting schedules, delegating child rearing decisions, or requiring a parent to take parenting classes or submit to drug testing.

For divorced parents, minor violations of a court's custody order may not result in a loss of custody immediately, however repeated or major violations may. For parents fighting not to lose custody to the state, not complying with a court's order, or even failing a drug test ordered by the court, can result in losing custody.

Fortunately, courts are looking to do what is in the best interest of the child. Courts will generally provide opportunities for parents to regain custody, usually after satisfying court ordered conditions.

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