Facing a courtroom battle over who gets your children is a nerve-wracking experience on its own but when that possibility actually comes to fruition, it’s very common to go through a something akin to a mourning period. Judges don’t look forward to removing children from care under one parent’s roof and placing them elsewhere, especially when they know the children are going to go through a rough patch while adjusting.
Unfortunately, there are times when it may serve your child’s best interest for one reason or another that child custody be given to their other parent or another relative. What you need to keep in mind is that depending upon the reasons why, it may not be a permanent arrangement and you may have a chance of regaining custody down the road if you can work to turn things around and prove that you’re the parent who is better suited to be your children’s primary caretaker.
What can cause a parent to lose custody?
There are all kinds of actions that can prompt a change in child custody. It doesn’t always come down to showing that you’ve done something wrong but often the catalyst can be allegations of:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological or emotional abuse
- Domestic violence with someone else living in the home
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Relocating with your child in violation of a standing custody order
- Actively alienating your children from their other parent
- Failing to maintain their health or education
- Exposing them to dangerous activities or situations
- The health of the parent with physical custody has greatly declined
Courts always view custody in terms of what is in the best interest of the child. That same standard is used when considering a change in physical custody. Depending upon the claims being made and evidence provided, there is also a chance of losing legal custody – the right to make decisions related to your child’s upbringing. Just some of the situations considered may include whether:
- A special needs child’s educational requirements would be better served in the school district where the other parent lives.
- A parent needs to enter an extended rehab program.
- The parent with physical custody has chosen a job opportunity or new relationship in another state and intends to remove the child from a community.
Just because you lose custody doesn’t mean you actually did anything wrong. When you have a contentious relationship it is possible that false allegations can be made, evidence can be manufactured by your child’s other parent, and your child can be coached to stick with the story he or she is told. Judges make decisions based on the evidence placed in front of them and if you cannot sufficiently disprove a claim, often a judge will err on the side of caution to protect a child until they can be shown otherwise.
Properly addressing the issues may get your children back
Your children need you in their lives and judges do not take pleasure in causing rifts in families. Once you understand where things went wrong you can begin to figure out how to fix them. If it was due to false allegations, work with your attorney to figure out how to legally prove your side of the story and why your children are better off living with you. If, on the other hand, there are real problems to resolve, it may take some time to undo any damage and earn the right to custody again.
If you have a substance abuse problem, showing you want to get better for your kids may mean attending rehab or counseling, remaining clean for a period and proving it with voluntary periodic drug testing. The faster you act and the more seriously you take making the necessary changes can help in proving to the court that you understand you made a mistake but are willing to what anything you have to in order to get your children back.
You may have to be okay with visitation
Not every child custody modification will go your way even if you’ve done everything right. If the judge feels it would be too detrimental to uproot your children, you may have to learn to adjust to a visitation schedule. The good thing about visitation is that it is possible to negotiate a schedule that gives you more time with your kids than you may have had prior to the progress you made on remedying the situation. This is why making the right choice in who you trust to provide you with legal guidance is so important. The success of your case depends on it.
You can take the necessary steps to correct the situation that caused you to lose primary custody of your children. The first place to begin is consulting with an experienced family law attorney who can help you create a plan to correct any issues the court raised as grounds for a change in custody. Schedule your consultation today with one of our caring Knoxville family law attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter by calling our office at 865-637-6258, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.