Can a Mother Lose Custody in Arizona for Not Having a Job?


Raising a child comes with many responsibilities, including the ability to provide financially. Without a job to pay for expenses like rent, utilities, and food, a mother may be unsure of her ability to maintain custody. The good news is that a parent can have custody of a child without a job. In addition, if a mother’s primary responsibility during marriage was to care for the child, she may be awarded spousal support and child support which may be used to help raise the child.

According to a Child Support Supplement survey, fathers are granted custody approximately 18.3 percent of the time, while mothers are granted custody 81.7 percent of the time. A parent will usually not lose custody of a child unless it is found that having custody is not in the best interest of the child, such as in cases of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, refusal to co-parent, parent alienation, or a violation of a court order.

Custody Is Not Based on Employment

Child custody is not based on which parent has a job and which does not. Instead, a court will establish custody based on what is in the best interest of the child. Unless there are circumstances that change a judge’s decision, a child will typically remain in the residential custody of the primary caretaker.

When determining child custody, the court will look at the following key factors:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s emotional, physical, and medical needs.
  • Confirmed cases of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence by either parent.
  • How the child will be impacted by continuing the current custody arrangement or by modifying the current custody arrangement.
  • The ability of each parent to provide a loving and stable home environment.
  • The wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to express their desires regarding custody.
  • The level of attachment between the child and their home, community, and school environment.
  • The physical and emotional health of each parent and the child.
  • The preferences of each parent in regard to custody.
  • How much support each parent has provided up to this point.
  • The age of the child as many courts wish to keep the schedules of young children fairly consistent.

In the majority of cases, a judge will assign joint custody which allows each parent to remain equally in the child’s life. However, if a judge reviews the mother’s finances and it is determined that she is unable to support her child, it may negatively impact the possession of the child and her visitation rights.

Supporting a Child Without a Job

If a spouse was a stay-at-home mother prior to separation or divorce, she may have little to no job experience. The courts will take this into consideration when determining custody and may award the mother child support to allow her to meet the needs of the child. Child support is a financial award that one spouse may have to pay to the other spouse to assist with childcare costs. The purpose of awarding child support is to help maintain the child’s quality of life.

A disparity in income between a mother and father is not always looked at negatively by the courts. Instead, the court may choose to help the parent with little to no income care for the child by awarding spousal support or spousal maintenance. Spousal support payments can help to balance the two spouse’s income levels and provide the child with a stable living environment.

There are times in which a mother could lose custody of her child for not having a job. This could occur if the reason for her not having a job negatively impacts her child. For example, if a mother loses her job due to addiction which causes her to neglect her child, she risks losing custody to the father or another party who is able to provide for the child’s needs. If the mother’s actions are not in the best interest of the child, she could lose custody.

Speak with a Family Law Attorney Today

It is normal for a mother going through a child custody battle to be worried about losing custody for not having a job. Fortunately, good mothers do not usually lose custody for lack of employment alone. For more information about the specifics of child custody cases or for assistance with a custody case, talk to the experienced family law attorneys at JacksonWhite Law.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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