How to Cope with the Emotional Impact of Losing Full Custody of Your Child

March 12, 2023

Losing full custody

Divorce is never a pleasant experience, especially when there’s a child or children involved. It’s not only financially expensive for both parties involved, but it can be emotionally wrenching, even if the divorce is somewhat amicable.

What’s most unfortunate and even tragic about divorce is not necessarily the breakup of a once unified, loving couple, but it’s how both opposing ex-spouses tend to utilize their children not as young human beings but as bargaining chips. All too often, both parents want to have full custody of their children, not only to control how they are raised but so they are not mandated by the state to pay child support, which can run into the thousands every month.

This is where a good and fair divorce lawyer comes in handy. Says the professionals at the Laura Gillis Law Office, a child custody attorney in Phoenix, AZ, when it comes to divorce proceedings, you must put your children’s best interest before your own. This holds true for the issue of child custody. In some states, both ex-spouses are automatically handed equal rights to custody of their children. But in the end, the court will always decide the best and healthiest custodial arrangement based on the needs and welfare of the child or children.

Parents might agree to a shared or joint custody arrangement. Or it’s possible one parent can be awarded primary physical custody while the other is granted only visitation rights. This can be a heart-wrenching situation for the parent who only gets to “visit” their kids.

How does a newly divorced parent go about coping with the emotional impact of losing full custody of his or her child? According to a recent report by Optimist Minds, the mere thought that the relationship between you and your child is about to change dramatically following a legal separation from your spouse can be emotionally distressing. But here are a few immediate steps you can take to begin coping with the radial change in circumstances:

  • Seek out professional psychiatric help and therapy
  • Embrace in self-care, including exercise, good food, and plenty of rest
  • Get the best legal advice you can afford

Join a support group

Losing custody of a child is one of the most common issues that parents will face during the divorce process. In cases where a parent is seen as unfit to be a parent due to alcohol and substance abuse, child abuse or neglect, and neglect due to physical and mental illness, the courts will almost always side with the healthier parent, giving them full custody.

When you legally lose custody of your child you will naturally experience a variety of anxieties and stresses that can be emotionally overwhelming. You can’t help but stress over the child, their immediate and long-term future, their future with you, and more. Add to this the stress of all the legal battles you will be engaging in with your ex-spouse and what you face is an emotional rollercoaster at best or an emotional crash and burn at worst.

It can also be hard for you and your child to adjust to these major changes in the family dynamic. The very notion that your child has been taken from you, that you no longer have access to them, and that your ex could be speaking poorly of you, is nothing less than an excruciating experience.

Mental Health Problems Related to Child Custody

Says Optimist Minds, every person’s experience with a legal child custody battle is different. It’s possible you lost your child due to separation and divorce, or it’s possible you lost the right to be a parent because you were deemed “unfit” by the courts.

The experience of losing custody is said to be the same as any other great loss. The various stages of grief apply, and they can cause great stress on your mental and physical wellbeing. Some of the more common mental health issues you will face includes but are not limited to:


It’s perfectly normal for a person to feel angry, irritable, and even confused when custody arrangements do not go their way. You feel like you’ve lost control, and that the court’s decision was unfair and unjust.


Custody cases cause undo stress. People have difficulty sleeping, feel tense, and might not even be able to perform their duties at work. You might drink too much, not eat enough, and roll around at night in bed, stressing out.

Societal Withdrawal

Some people who lose custody of their child will pull back from friends and family due to shame and depression. Even when friends want to help, you would rather be alone.


It’s natural to feel ashamed and guilty, since you will blame yourself for your custody situation. Or you will feel profound anger if you blame your ex-spouse.

How to Cope with Losing Full Custody of Your Child

Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can take care of yourself to cope with the loss of custody of your child. They include the following:


If you notice the many symptoms of depression have set in, and that they have been having a direct effect on your ability to maintain a relationship, your ability to work, or even sleep, then it’s time to seek our professional help. Don’t wait since the symptoms of depression can compound daily and lead to substance abuse. Working with a professional therapist or psychologist who specializes in issues of loss and grief that are associated with divorce and child custody is ideal.


It’s likely your therapist will suggest ways for you to make necessary lifestyle changes for managing your depression. These include maintaining a proper diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising on a regular basis. Building positive relationships among friends and family is also a key to proper self-care. Keeping an open, amicable line of communication with your ex is also a big plus. However, this is not always possible due to ill feelings. Just listen to your body, and do what works for you, even if it means sleeping in for a day.

Legal Representation

Seeking out the best custodial lawyer you can find is key if you’ve lost full custody of your child. If money is tight, you can seek out lawyers who will work pro bono. The intention of seeking legal advice is to empower you in a court of law so that you can make better legal decisions regarding you and your child going forward.

In the end, you will want to join a support group of like-minded people who can offer up personal words of wisdom when it comes to your child and your custody arrangement. Education programs can also help and provide you with stress relief since there is real power in knowledge. Do not sit at home and feel sorry for yourself. This only leads to self-destructive behavior. Get out there and be proactive when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with your child, even if you do not have full or even partial custody.

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Hello, I'm Lorita. Hoping to inspire you to explore and create things that make life a bit more fun and beautiful.