Being A Non-custodial Mother

Being A Non-custodial Mother

desert stroll

I remember the day vividly.  The day I lost custody of my little girl.  I knew it would probably end up this way, but nothing could have prepared me for being a non-custodial mother.

Being a non-custodial mother is a rare breed.  So rare I thought I must be the only one.  I guess in a way I hoped I was the only one.  I would never wish this painful experience on any other mother.

Alas, the world is a big place and the unfortunate circumstance of being a non-custodial mother does not afflict me alone.  The biggest lesson I learned so far is try though others might, they cannot understand unless they are a non-custodial mother too.  We are a rare breed and need to be there for each other.  That’s why I decided to write about it.  I hoped to reach others.  To find others to commiserate with, and inspire.  I was looking for comfort from others too.  To know fellow struggles and conquests, to learn from and feel better knowing I’m not the only one sitting here without my kid.

My non-custodial mother status was caused by an out of state move.  That’s it.  Everything else was going for me: good home, job, family, education, personal background, everything.  Right down to a full psych evaluation and everything.  Not a thing wrong.  Just the location of my house–a few states away.  Ultimately the court decided to leave the child in their home state.

When the decision came down I was devastated, but not surprised.  Moving a child out of the state the other parent remains in is more than an uphill battle.  If you’re attempting a relocation, know that going in.  I knew the odds were against me, but I had to try.  If you’re in such a circumstance, know that it is tough.  The burden rests on you to prove the benefit of the relocation for the child.  The benefit has to significantly outweigh the provision in the current state or by the current parent.  The situation I was in was decent on both sides (from the court’s perspective of course, my personal opinion is another story for another day), so home state ruled.

I was heartbroken.  I felt sick, angry, scared.  I didn’t know what to do next.  All I thought about was curling up in a ball and not doing anything.  But I couldn’t.  There was still a little girl who needed me.  Though she didn’t know what was going on, she still needed her mother.  She would soon need me to be the best mother I could be, though it would be from a long distance.  Long distance parenting would be the biggest challenge of my life.

Being a non-custodial mother brings so many questions.  Why did this happen?  How can this be my life?  What is wrong with me?  Who does he think he is?  Where did I go wrong?  When will it get better?  These are not good questions to dwell on.  There is still a child needing their mother, no matter how far away or limited in contact.

mother and daughter


It’s amazing how little effort it takes to sulk.  It takes no effort to sit about and feel sorry for yourself and even solicit sympathy from others.  As a non-custodial mother it becomes even more easy.  The label becomes a crutch even I found myself leaning on a ton.  The type-a personality in me was crushed.  I no longer had control or even much input at all.  Plenty of times in the early days I would contemplate distancing myself even more from her to stop the pain because seeing her this way felt like something akin to medieval torture.

It does not do to dwell on these thoughts.  They can become destructive in no time.  Instead realize the title of mother is still yours and yours alone.  No one can take that from you.  Luckily I realized this just as quickly as the negativity swooped in and it was easy to get back on track so to speak.  I may have had to engineer and construct the track from scratch, but hey, hard work pays off at some point.  What you do as a non-custodial mother can reshape your life and the life of the little ones you influence.

If I can offer one last piece of advice, it is to know that physical custody does not delegate impact.  Being a non-custodial mother does not remove your right and ability to impact and influence your child.  Find the ways that work for you.  Find what reaches their little heart the best.  Once you identify that connection, the label of being a non-custodial mother feels a little more tolerable.

What ways do you connect with your child?  What other struggles would you like discussed on this blog?


For more articles on this subject see my other posts: Being A Mother From A Distance, It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To, Every Given Sunday, and Life After Losing Custody.



13 thoughts on “Being A Non-custodial Mother

  1. Thank you. I am a NCM, too. Losing custody to my ex husband has been a very devastating experience for me. Your article was an echo of wisdom and a blessing to read. I don’t have all the answers yet about how I will manage my loss, but it is definitely one painful day at a time.

  2. I lost custody of my baby girl due to trusting her father who lived in a different state and had his little girl for a visit and would not return her. Even after filing for custody and driving to that state he was no where to be found. His state dismissed my filing due to jurisdiction. This was 2015 and she was 3. Now 2019 she is 7 and he is not withholding my visitation. I am so sick inside because I can’t afford to relocate and I cannot afford to pay for an attorney. Legal aid won’t help in his state because I am not a resident. Legal aid won’t help in my state because the court order is in a different state. I struggle each day, so lost, so hurt. I suppress my pain and feelings each day knowing my employer and daily life is not compatible with the deep sorrow I feel. I am so lost, I am so hurt. No support in any aspect. I cannot cope mainly because her father treats me so horribly. This pain has me Frozen in life….

  3. Aside from losing a child to death, losing custody of a child to an unloving distant parent is the deepest pain any parent could ever not even begin to imagine. I used to be such a happy person before all this.

    1. Truthful words. Being a noncustodial mother requires constant coping. I hope you find comfort and some form of happiness. Keep your child in your heart throughout it all.

  4. I dont know how you do it. I think maybe your struggle is a little easier because you have another little one? I don’t know. Im lost and feel like my life is completely pointless other than the minimal time im with my son. Life is so empty now without his constant presence and ive lost my will and passion for life entirely.

  5. I have not lost my 4yr old little girl yet, but her father is set on her living with him leaving me with her 6yr old half sister. He has a job and savings, I the stay at home mum have very little. I have no funds to fight him and I just don’t know how to tell my older daughter that her little sister wont be living with us anymore. They love each other so much. The pain of what is of is going to happen is unbearably, I have no idea how I m going to cope without my baby girl and how to help her older sister. I m devastated now, just at the thought of it.

    1. I am sorry for your circumstances. The role of noncustodial mother is a difficult one. I hope you are finding a way. Please chat on here or reach out anytime.

  6. I am going through this right now and am about to move states without my son. My heart feels like it’s being ripped from my chest. I hope and pray he knows that I love him so very much and never meant for things to end up this way. It’s hard to talk about because nobody understands unless they have been through it themselves.

    1. Exactly. No one understands unless they have been through it. I am so sorry for your pain and this change in circumstances for you and your son.

  7. Thank you for your website. I am mother of seven years old wonderful son and I lost him now for the second time at custody battle. This all thanks to my abusive ex and his power over all at this USA corrupt system. My son miss me and can’t understand why he can’t be with me and his family/friends on my side. I must “put” my heart into ice and my level of feelings drop off to zero. I can’t be around other moms as I feel from them they must think how terrible person mother I must be by losing my baby. I am cutting off those people who can’t or refused to understand. I am good mom with no mental, drugs, or any other profession issues , I am just mom victim of domestic violence with no money or symphaty from this wrong system. I know I have to stay strong somehow and be ready to get son back or have little connection so he knows I did not leave him…..and there is still some chance to see him one day , I hope !!! Can’t image parents who lost child forever. Loving Peace .

    1. I’ve often compared noncustodial motherhood to losing a child forever, and thought it wasn’t a fair comparison. While it may not be since we do have some opportunity to see our child again, it does not eliminate the pain and anguish of it. It is heart crushing too. Especially for no good reason like you or me. Like you, I steeled my heart and feelings for years and avoided other moms to cope with it. I have found some friends along the way that understand the plight and support me and my daughter regardless. I hope this for you, and that a door will open to see your child more. You’re still their mama and that is something no one can take away.

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