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How to Keep Your Role as a Mother to Your Kids After Divorce when You are a Non-custodial Parent

One of the biggest issues to resolve in a divorce is custody of the children. There is a common notion or expectation that the mother gets custody. That is unless it is subsequently proven that she is unfit or unqualified. This is not accurate. 

The actual statute of the law is that custody of the child will be awarded to the primary caregiver. That is not always the mother. There are also many instances wherein the father would willfully concede primary custody. These and other cases have perpetuated the misconception that the “default” custody belongs to the mother. 

However, there are cases wherein the mother actually loses custody of the child. If you are facing this situation, this doesn’t mean you lost your child. You can still be a mother to your child. It is a tough situation, but there are ways to cope and still be a good mother to your child. 

Try to Address the Reason Why You Did Not Gain Custody

If you really fought for primary custody of your child in court, then the judge would need to be very clear and detailed in his/her decision. 

There are common reasons why a mother is not awarded custody. It could be as simple as the fact that you are not the primary caretaker. This is not just an issue of who spends more time with the child, although that places a lot of favor. 

The judge will look at which parent does the most in terms of child-rearing. The parent who addresses most of the child’s needs. In most cases, that would be the stay-at-home parent, but it is not a certainty. 

If there are any accusations that would cast doubt on your ability to be a parent, as a history of abusive behavior or a proven case of poor decision making, this is something that you can try to improve.

How to Cope 

The most difficult part that you must try to overcome is the look of judgment from people when you tell them that you do not have custody. Because of the prevailing misconception, they will think that there is something wrong with you—that you are abusive, a drug addict or a criminal—which is why you lost custody. 

It would take courage, but you must remember that you have to press on because your child needs you. Maximize your visitation rights and try to maintain an amicable relationship with your ex-husband. This could be the key to improving your visitation rights or even getting joint custody. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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