Parents fight over having legal rights to raise their children after a divorce. In the past, mothers are automatically given sole custody in favor of being the “mother.” However, times have changed, and it is now highly possible for a mother to lose custody of her child. Fathers are now better preparing their child custody cases to win sole custody of their children.

Prominent Los Angeles child custody lawyer, Leon F. Bennett, acknowledges that there are circumstances where a father can win sole custody just as the vice versa can be true. “Child custody cases hinge on several circumstances that require in-depth legal analysis before entering the courtroom to have your client’s best defense strategy well conceived.”

In this article, we will discuss a number of ways a mother could fail to win the custody case of their children.

What Are The Different Types of California Child Custody?

Legal Child Custody

Legal child custody means that the parent has authority on the child’s upbringing until he or she comes of age. The custody enables the parent to make long-term decisions for the child’s well-being in all essential aspects.

Legal custody refers to the legal authority granted to a parent or guardian to make significant decisions regarding the upbringing and welfare of a child. It encompasses the right and responsibility to make determinations about matters that affect the child’s overall well-being, including but not limited to education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and general welfare. Legal custody is distinct from physical custody, which relates to the day-to-day care and living arrangements of the child.

When a court awards legal custody to a parent or guardian, it bestows upon them the legal authority to make major decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions typically involve choices that have long-term implications for the child’s development and future.

They may include decisions regarding the selection of educational institutions, medical treatments, mental health care providers, religious affiliations, and extracurricular activities. The court’s primary consideration in determining legal custody is the best interests of the child, as it aims to ensure that important decisions are made in a manner that promotes the child’s welfare and overall growth.

Legal custody can be awarded solely to one parent or guardian, known as sole legal custody, or it can be granted jointly to both parents or guardians, referred to as joint legal custody. In cases of sole legal custody, only one parent or guardian holds the authority to make major decisions concerning the child’s well-being. Joint legal custody, on the other hand, requires the parents or guardians to collaborate and make these decisions together, often necessitating effective communication and cooperation between them.

It is essential to recognize that legal custody is separate from physical custody, which pertains to the child’s residence and day-to-day care.

While legal custody may be shared jointly, physical custody arrangements can vary, ranging from sole physical custody with visitation rights to shared physical custody where the child spends substantial time with both parents or guardians. The determination of legal custody is typically made by a court, considering various factors such as the child’s age, parental capabilities, the nature of the parent-child relationship, and any history of abuse or neglect.

In California where laws are very specific in regard to child custody, it’s best to consult with a child custody attorney in Los Angeles about ground for custody to assure your path to custody is best for the child.

Physical Child Custody

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Physical custody is given to the more suitable parent who can provide for the child’s care on a day-to-day basis.

In situations where there’s a legal arrangement on the child’s divided care, the court will still determine the parent who gets physical custody over the child. Meaning, whoever gets physical custody gets to live with the child.

Nonetheless, both parents can still have equal rights in making decisions imperative to their child’s upbringing.

Sole Child Custody

Sole custody pertains to an arrangement that involves granting legal and physical custody of the child to one parent or guardian. This parent or guardian is now called the custodial parent.

The custodial parent has exclusive legal rights on the child’s upbringing, which means he or she is responsible for the needs of the child in all aspects of life, including the child’s future.

Joint Child Custody

Joint custody provides shared physical and/or legal custody to both parents in deciding over the child’s welfare.

Both parents can be granted equal rights in raising the child. They can arrange the child’s living conditions, which involves dividing the time they get to spend with the child.

Different Form of Join Custody

Another form of joint custody is granting equal legal rights to both parents, but not physical rights. For example, if the mother has physical custody of the child, the father can have court-ordered visitation rights. However, both the mother and the father are responsible for executing major decisions on the child’s life.

On the contrary, if only the mother has legal custody of her child, the father can have no say on the child’s life when it involves vital aspects. But, if they both have physical custody of the child, they can divide when the child lives with one parent or the other.

Split Child Custody

Split custody is an arrangement made over custody cases involving more than one child in the family. It means that siblings are divided between the parents, but all children still get to spend time with both parents at separate times.

family law child custody and the 5 ways a mother could lose itEven though family courts encourage siblings to stick together after their parents’ divorce, there are cases when a split custody arrangement is required.

The most common exception of warranting split custody is for logistic reasons, especially when it involves the children’s education and personal activities crucial to their development. Aside from this, other underlying factors might still be at play.

For example, in Los Angeles, child custody attorneys are accustomed to long and drawn-out battles over child custody that can be even more acerbic as spousal support battles.

Five Ways For A Mother To Lose Custody of Her Child

It’s extremely important to understand the specific California child support laws when entering into a divorce of any kind before you craft your argument for custody.

Here are five possible reasons why a parent, particularly the mother, can’t win the custody case, but keep in mind there are always extenuating circumstances to every case where even bullying or bad blogging by a “psycho ex-wife” or husband can sway a judge’s decision regarding child custody.

  • Domestic Violence

Violence on children appears in many forms, such as physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse.

There are specific details that reflect on each clause.

  • Physical violence could mean excessive hitting, beating, kicking, punching, etc.
  • Sexual violence involves any form of sexual contact between the child and the mother.
  • Psychological and emotional abuse is usually caused by harsh verbal treatments and the effects of other types of abuse.

According to Woodland Hills divorce attorney, Leon F. Bennett, “Any proven evidence of violence can cause a mother, or any parent, to lose custody of their child.”

  • Substance Abuse or Addiction

Substance abuse reflects poorly on the mother’s capacity to raise the child in a healthy environment.

Using any kind of substance and excessive alcohol drinking are strong determinants of possible associations with domestic violence. Thus, it suggests that the mother does not have the ideal disposition of being a nurturing and caring role model.

  • Child Neglect

Neglect of the child’s welfare highly indicates that the mother may not have the capacity to raise the child in the best manner. Failure or inconsistency in providing basic needs and necessities like food, shelter, clothing, education, and healthcare are substantial grounds for losing custody.

Minor mishaps may be overlooked, but if there’s actual neglect on the mother’s part, it may cause a reconsideration on the custodial agreement.

  • Child Abduction

If the mother decides to take her child without permission from the other parent, the court can consider it as child abduction.

Even if the mother does not harm the child or the child consents, it is against any custodial agreement for a parent to run off with the child without the knowledge of the other parent. This action can make the mother look unfavorable and risk losing instead of gaining custody over the child.

  • Violation of Court Order

Violation of court order involves all the other four factors that may cause the mother to lose custody of her child.

Any nonconforming behavior of the mother, especially when it shows the inability to raise the child with his or her welfare in mind, can urge the court to transfer the custody to a more competent parent or guardian.


The competence of a mother to care for her child should have enough bearing in the eyes of the court. A mother’s ability to become a real parent goes beyond the lengths of providing the child’s material needs. Even after winning legal custody of the child after the divorce, it’s still possible for the mother to lose her custodial rights based on strong grounds of violence, substance abuse, addiction and violations of court orders.

People Also Ask

How is child custody determined in a divorce?

Child custody is typically determined based on the best interests of the child. Factors considered include parental abilities, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the child’s overall well-being.

Can grandparents get custody rights in a divorce?

In certain situations, grandparents may seek custody rights. However, this often depends on state laws and whether it is in the best interests of the child. Consult with a grandparents rights attorney in Los Angeles if you have questions in California.

What types of child custody arrangements are common?

Common custody arrangements include joint custody (both parents share responsibilities) and sole custody (one parent has primary custody with or without visitation rights for the other).

How does the court determine visitation rights for the non-custodial parent?

Visitation rights are typically determined based on the child’s best interests, and the non-custodial parent is usually granted reasonable access unless specific circumstances require restrictions.

Can a child’s preference affect custody decisions?

In some cases, a child’s preference may be considered, especially as the child gets older. However, the weight of the child’s preference varies depending on the age and maturity of the child.

What factors can negatively impact a parent’s custody case?

Factors such as substance abuse, domestic violence, neglect, or a parent’s inability to provide a stable environment can negatively impact a custody case.

Can custody arrangements be modified after the divorce is final?

Yes, custody arrangements can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances or if it is in the best interests of the child. Common changes include relocations, changes in a parent’s lifestyle, or the child’s evolving needs.

How does long-distance parenting affect custody arrangements?

Long-distance parenting may require specific considerations, such as extended visitation periods during school breaks and the use of technology for regular communication between the child and non-custodial parent.

What role does mediation play in child custody disputes?

Divorce mediation is often used to help parents reach a mutually agreeable custody arrangement without going to court. It allows parents to discuss their concerns and work towards a resolution with the help of a neutral third party.

Can joint custody work if parents don’t get along?

Joint custody can work even if parents don’t get along if they are willing to communicate effectively and prioritize the best interests of the child. Co-parenting tools, counseling, and clear communication plans can help in such situations.

About Divorce Family Lawyer, Leon F. Bennett, Esq.

The Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett provide efficient and effective Family Law services throughout Southern California for over 35 years that satisfy you and your family’s goals. Leon F. Bennett, Esq. is an expert child and spousal support attorney in Woodland Hills, Ca., who will get the desired results for you and your family.

Contact us today to request a consultation.