Child custody is usually one of the most contentious matters during a Massachusetts divorce case — even though shared parenting is the norm for many families. Even after the divorce is finalized, you could still lose custody of the kids through the Massachusetts child custody modification process.
It is important to note that custody decisions are made based on the child’s “best interest and welfare.” Most often, it is presumed that both parents have equal custody rights. However, this may not apply if one of the parents is unable to provide a safe environment for the child. Under such circumstances, the court may strip the parent of their custody rights.
Here are three instances when child custody modifications can result in one parent losing all or most of their access to their children:
Abuse comes in many forms. If there is evidence that you are physically, mentally, or sexually abusing your child, it is highly likely that you will lose custody. The same applies when you allow someone else to abuse your child. For instance, if your partner is abusive to the child, and you do not take any steps to keep the child safe, the children’s court might strip you of custody — and even visitation.
2. Violating court orders
If there is a custody order in place, and one parent is found to be violating it, the court might consider reviewing the custody arrangement. Should extenuating circumstances arise, it is important that you communicate this to the other party in a timely manner. Willfully denying the other party’s visitation rights or taking the child out of state contrary to court orders could trigger a review and a possible loss of custody.
3. Engaging in parental alienation
Badmouthing or inciting your children against their other parent amounts to parental alienation, and it is never taken lightly by the court. This is a form of emotional abuse as it can leave the child devastated and resentful.
Parental custody is never cast on stone. Knowing the circumstances that can lead to the revocation of child custody in Massachusetts can help you make decisions that will protect your parent-child relationship.