There is no better way to lose custody than to demonstrate to a judge that you are not involved in raising your child. Usually one parent is more responsible for caring for the children’s basic needs, the so called “primary caretaker”.Therefore, if you don’t put in time for homework, feeding, bathing, and fulfilling the basic needs of your child, you are at a real disadvantage in a custody case.
But there are other ways to lose the primary caretaker role. Some are listed below:
1. Not being active in your child’s schedule and activities:
Do you know the names of your child’s teachers? Have you ever supervised your child on a playdate or taken your child to the doctor? If the answer is “no”, then it is an indication that someone else (i.e. the other parent) is the primary caretaker.
2. Alcohol, drugs, or other “parental fitness” issues:
A parent who even casually partakes in alcohol and/or drugs will not be awarded custody of their child. Most judges take allegations of substance abuse seriously, and the allegations, if made, could be investigated through random drug testing, psychological evaluations, and other means.
3. Domestic Violence:
Perpetration of domestic violence by one parent upon the other will have a profound effect on custody orders (see FC Section 3044). If you are the perpetrator of domestic violence or abuse (which often goes hand in hand with alcohol use), it is pretty much a guarantee you will lose custody of your child. If necessary, enroll in an anger management program.
4. Loss of Control:
More than once I have seen parents attend Court hearings and lose their temper in front of the Judge. If the allegation regarding your parenting skills is that you quickly lose your temper with the children, don’t prove that allegation by losing your temper in the Court.
5. Disparaging the other parent:
Judges tend to look favorably on a parent who demonstrates he/she supports the child’s relationship with the other parent. A parent who constantly denigrates the other parent, will lose favor in a custody dispute. In extreme cases, there may be allegations of parental alienation and withholding of parenting time. Many judges will consider a change of custody if this type of behavior is shown.
IN THE END
If you want to have primary custody you need to show the Judge you promote the best interests of your child, and to do that you need to recognize the value of the child’s relationship with the other parent and take steps to encourage that relationship. This is especially true when you are going through adversarial proceeding with someone you don’t like very much, it can be very hard to put those feelings aside for the sake of your child. But that is exactly what you must do.