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Can A Mother Lose Custody For Not Having A Home In California?

When you love your children, the thought of losing custody of them can be the most frightening thing you can imagine. There are stories about courts in California taking away custody for a wide variety of reasons, so if you are currently without a home or you are in danger of losing your home, it is quite natural to wonder whether that will mean losing custody as well.

There is no simple answer, because decisions about a child’s custody are based on the child’s best interests at the time, and many factors go into assessing what a child’s best interests are. In this post, we will look at how a parent’s housing situation can impact custody.

What is the Parental Situation?

The law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests to spend meaningful time with both parents, so one of the first questions to consider with regard to custody is whether the child has two legal parents who are capable of providing physical and/or legal custody. If a person acting as a parent has not established legal parentage in some way, they have no right to legal custody.

If there is another legal parent but that parent has a history of domestic violence, drug use, or alcohol abuse, or that parent is in jail, then the parent with housing issues will not face a solid custody challenge from the other parent. However another family member or Child Protective Services could request a change in custody based on the housing issues.

What is the Reason for the Lack of a Home?

In many cases, it is not so much the lack of stability in a housing situation but the reason behind the housing problem that would provide grounds for a mother or father to lose custody. If a parent got into debt and lost their home because of a medical bill or business venture and they are taking steps to rebuild their lives, that parent would be less likely to lose custody than a parent who lacks housing because of a long-term problem that could place a child’s safety and wellbeing at risk, such as drug addiction or mental illness.

Is the Child in a Safe and Stable Living Situation?

If a mother or father does not have their own house or apartment but they have a place where they can live with the child in safety and comfort, then the fact that the parent’s name is not on a lease or deed should not be held against them for a custody determination. If the living arrangement provides a child with a clean environment, their own bed, adequate food, and the ability to continue attending the same school and have access to family and friends, then the lack of an official home might not serve as a reason to deprive that parent of custody. However, if the parent is constantly moving from one place to another, living out of a vehicle, or staying with the child in an environment where the child could be at risk of abuse, neglect, or other harm, then it is more likely that the living situation would provide grounds for that parent to lose custody.

If a Loved One is at Risk, Talk to an Attorney

Children deserve a safe home with people who love and care for them. When their parents are capable of providing that care, it makes sense to ensure that they have the opportunity to do so. If a child is at risk because of a dangerous living situation or at risk of wrongfully being removed from a parent, it is a good idea to talk to an attorney to find out how to protect the child’s best interests. 

If one parent is financially successful and has a large home, that parent should not be allowed to deprive the other parent of custody just because their financial situation does not provide as many material advantages. However, when a parent’s housing difficulties puts a child at risk of physical, emotional, or mental harm, then it is time to take action to protect the child, and a change of custody may be required to accomplish that.

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC Fights for the Right Custody Determinations

Whether a parent or grandparent is seeking to gain custody during a divorce or trying to modify custody arrangements years later, the dedicated team at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC is prepared to fight for the outcome that supports the child’s best interests. We have over 300+ years of collective experience, and we are ready to put our knowledge to work for you. To discuss how we could assist, just schedule a consultation.

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