top of page
  • Writer's pictureKyle Persaud

Can a Mother Lose Custody for Not Having a Job?

Many mothers choose to stay at home with their children. Some may ask if not having a job will cause them to lose custody of their children.


Generally, the answer is no. I have never known of a custody case in which a mother lost custody for not having a job.


Custody disputes between the mother and the father


In divorce cases (and custody disputes between the mother and father when the parents are not married) the legal standard is “the best interests of the child.” The judge is to award custody based on whatever the judge believes is in the best interests of the child.


In deciding what is in the best interests of the child, the judge may consider any relevant evidence (unless some other law excludes the evidence.) Oklahoma state law defines relevant evidence as “evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.”


In other words, in order to deprive a mother of custody for not having a job, the judge would have to find some reason why the mother’s not having a job would cause her custody to be detrimental to the child’s best interests.


It is difficult to conceive of a situation where this could actually occur. The only circumstances that I can imagine, where not having a job would cause the mother to lose custody, would be: 1) If the mother did not have a job simply because she was irresponsible or unable to work, and her inability to work lead a judge to believe that she could not care for a child, or 2) She had no money to be able to provide for the child. But I have never known either situation to happen.


Custody disputes between the mother and a non-parent


In custody disputes between the mother and a non-parent (such as a relative, or DHS), there is a different standard. In custody disputes between a parent and a non-parent, a non-parent may only gain custody if the non-parent can prove that the parent is “affirmatively unfit.” (rather than comparatively unfit.) The non-parent may not gain custody simply by arguing that the non-parent would be better able to raise the child; the non-parent must show that the parent is affirmatively unfit. Again, the court may consider any relevant evidence. “Relevant evidence” has the same meaning: “evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.”


So if a non-parent can show that the parent’s not having a job demonstrates that the parent is affirmatively unfit, then the parent could lose custody. Again, while this is theoretically possible, I do not know of any situation where a court has actually found a parent to be unfit because the parent did not have a job.


A Mother Is Not Likely to Lose Custody for Not Having a Job


The only reason I wrote about this topic is that my webmaster, based on his research, advised me that some parents might be asking whether a mother could lose custody for not having a job. I have never encountered this question in actual practice. The issue of a mother losing custody of her child because she does not have a job, is not a situation that parents realistically need to fear. It is not a question that typically arises in courts.

0 comments

Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page