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How can parents lose custody or visitation rights?

Child custody arrangements can be some of the most difficult to make during a divorce. You want to create a fair parenting plan, but the thought of seeing your child less often than every day is something you don't want to agree to. Despite that, you and your spouse came up with an agreement you're happy with. However, when you reach court, that's not necessarily going to be approved.

Even if you and your spouse come up with child custody arrangements that work for you, there is always the possibility for the courts to deny visitation completely. For example, if the judge feels that the child is in danger when with one of the parents, he or she may prevent that parent from seeing the child or from visiting when unsupervised.

What could cause a parent to lose visitation or custody rights?

There are a few things that could result in a loss of visitation including using drugs when caring for a child, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or injuring the child. In the case that the visitation schedule is restricted, the court may require visitation sessions to take place at a social service agency or while in the presence of other supervising adults.

Attempting to kidnap your child, also known as parental kidnapping, is also likely to result in the loss of custody or a limitation on your visitation schedule, especially if the court believes that you could flee with your child again. That does not apply in cases where you had to take your children away to protect them, but you must show evidence that it was the only option for their safety.

Source: American Bar Association, "Child Custody and Support," accessed April 26, 2018

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