A lot of people think that courts favor mothers in child custody cases, but this isn’t always true.
In Virginia, and most other states in the country, both mothers and fathers are considered on equal footing when they first bring a child custody case into court.
Under certain circumstances, a mother may lose custody of her child due to preventable factors. Whether you’re a mother concerned about potentially losing custody or a father looking to regain custody, you need to arm yourself with the right information to avoid numerous legal pitfalls.
If you’re worried about custody arrangements in a divorce, contact a child custody lawyer to make sure your parental rights are protected.
How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child in Virginia?
In Virginia, a mother can lose custody of her child when she is declared an unfit parent. An unfit parent is legally defined as a parent that, through their conduct, fails to give their child proper support, care, and guidance.
Any parent who abuses or neglects their child may be deemed an unfit parent. This is also true if the parent has substance or alcohol abuse issues.
Some of the common reasons mothers lose custody of her child are the following:
- Physical and emotional abuse against the child or her ex-spouse
- Violation of court order involving the child
- Interfering with the parenting time of her ex-spouse, such as making it difficult for him to see the children or scheduling conflicting activities or trips
- Neglect or failure to provide proper access to health facilities, education, and other basic needs
- Substance abuse or addiction
Cases involving unfit parents often involve Child Welfare Services. A child custody evaluation may also be conducted to determine whether the child’s welfare, health, or safety is at risk. Once a parent has been deemed unfit, the court will limit or reduce the interaction between them and their children.
Virginia Criteria for Unfit Parent
In determining whether a mother is an unfit parent, Virginia courts will always consider the best interests of the child. This is because, during a divorce, it’s normal for couples to have enmity between them. Accusations of not being able to safely and effectively parent a child get raised all the time during child custody proceedings.
If the “fitness” of a parent gets questioned, the court considers several factors before deciding including the following:
- History of domestic violence or child abuse
- History of substance abuse
- Psychiatric concerns, such as if the parent is suffering from an aggressive or unpredictable mental illness
- The parent’s ability to decide for the child
- The parent’s ability to communicate with the child
- The parent’s work schedule
- The parent’s living environment
In certain cases, the court may also consider the wishes of a child. This is especially true if the child is above 12 years of age and can reasonably express their thoughts.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove a Parent Unfit in Virginia?
To obtain a ruling that a mother or father is an unfit parent in Virginia, the plaintiff must provide evidence of the parent’s behavior or the child’s environment. Some pieces of evidence that can be used are the following:
- Emails, voicemails, and text messages from the parent showing undesirable behavior
- Pictures, videos, and audio recordings showing evidence of abuse or neglect
- Medical records showing that the child had to get treatment after sustaining injuries due to the parent’s actions or inaction
- The parent’s criminal records
- Written testimonies from witnesses who have seen the parent endangering, harming, or threatening to harm the child
Hire a Child Custody Attorney Now
Whether you’re a mother in danger of losing custody or a father with reasonable grounds to believe that your ex-spouse is an unfit parent, you’ll need an experienced family law attorney by your side. They can help you protect your children and find a solution that safeguards your child’s best interests.
At Holcomb Law, we will review the facts of your case, help you understand your options, and work aggressively to protect your parental rights. Call (757) 656-1000 or contact us online to schedule a consultation