Can Family Court Force a Mother to Give Up Her Parental Rights & Also Her Visitation Rights?

By Heather Frances J.D.

When you divorce, the court will determine how custody of your children is split between you and your spouse, and the court has authority to remove all parental rights from either parent under provisions in your state’s laws. Generally, the court’s decisions are based on the best interests of your child, which usually involve giving the child a chance to form bonds with both parents.

Physical Vs. Legal Custody

Custody of a child can be divided into physical custody – the day-to-day care of the child – and legal custody – the ability to make important decisions about the child. Most “parental rights” are aspects of legal custody, but a family law court can deny physical custody and visitation as well as legal custody. Laws vary on how this works in each state, but noncustodial parents are not guaranteed visitation.

Best Interests

The family court’s ultimate goal is to determine a custody and visitation plan that is in the best interests of the child, and a court generally finds it in the child’s best interests to have visitation with the noncustodial parent. However, if the custodial parent can provide evidence that visitation is not in the child’s best interests, the court may limit or eliminate visitation. A guardian ad litem or other neutral representative of the child may also bring visitation concerns to the court’s attention.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Losing Visitation

Visitation is not normally denied unless the noncustodial parent is endangering the child’s physical or emotional health. For example, a family law court could deny visitation because the noncustodial parent was intoxicated during visitation, allowed the child to engage in risky or dangerous behavior or threatened or abused the child during visitation. Short of denying visitation, the court can alter the visitation schedule or require visitation to be supervised when a parent’s conduct interferes with the best interests of the child.

Restoring Visitation

A mother who has been denied visitation may have options to regain visitation rights, such as attending a drug treatment program or parenting classes. Sometimes, the court will suspend visitation until the mother has completed some type of counseling or treatment, and the mother must comply with the court’s instructions to regain visitation. Your state’s laws may give a specific procedure for regaining visitation.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Can a Noncustodial Parent Lose Visitation for Nonpayment of Child Support?

References

Related articles

Rights of a Sole Custodial Parent

Divorcing parents often fight hardest over child custody, and you may ask the court for sole custody of your child. Child custody laws vary somewhat by state, but courts have flexibility to divide custody in a way that is in the best interests of your child. If this means you receive sole custody, you will have more rights than if you shared custody with your ex-spouse.

Child Custody & Loss of Parental Rights From Drug Abuse

When a parent struggles with drug addiction, his parental rights may be affected. In some cases, child protection agencies may remove a child from a parent’s care if that parent abuses drugs. Likewise, during a divorce, a court may deny a parent custody if he has untreated drug abuse or addiction issues or terminate his parental rights entirely if he does not address his drug abuse problems. Therefore, treating the underlying illness is often key to protecting custody and parental rights.

How to Get Child Custody If a Parent Refuses to Sign the Papers

Because child custody disputes can be contentious and stressful, family courts encourage parents to settle their disputes on their own. This not only shields the child from the stress of a custody fight, but it also allows the parents the autonomy to work out a custody plan that works with both parents' schedules and the child's needs. When one parent refuses to sign a proposed parenting plan or settle a custody dispute, however, you will need to use the court system to resolve your custody issues.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How Does Spouse Abuse Affect Child Custody?

Courts and parents alike want to keep children safe from harm. In determining the custody arrangement following a ...

Grounds for Denying Visitation Rights

Although state courts are increasingly moving toward joint custody arrangements after divorce, the old standard of one ...

Georgia Custody Statutes for Denial of Visitation

Georgia law recognizes the important bond between a child and his parents, even when those parents don’t live together. ...

Divorce and Custody After Spousal Abuse

Although all states recognize no-fault divorce, the majority recognize fault-based grounds in addition to their ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED