Can You Be Denied Child Custody For Owning A Firearm?

Posted on: 23 April 2019

Although many people purchase guns for personal protection or to engage in certain hobbies (e.g. hunting), having a firearm in the home can actually have a negative impact on certain parts of an individual's life. In particular, being a gun owner can make it harder to obtain custody of children, especially in the current social and political climate. Here are two reasons you may be denied custody because you own a firearm and what you can do about it.

You Have a History of Not Securing Your Firearms

According to analysts, the second-highest cause of death for young people aged 1 to 19 was gun-related injuries. Many of those injuries were caused by firearms located in the home. Thus, if your ex can prove you don't properly secure your gun according to state and federal laws, the court may deny custody and/or visitation rights out of concern your children may become another statistic.

Almost every state has laws regulating how guns should be stored when there are children present in the home. For instance, Massachusetts requires gun owners to either place the firearms in a container that's locked at all times or to put a device on the guns that prevents people from operating it. Research the applicable laws in your state and do what is required to ensure you're in compliance. Furnishing the court with proof your firearms are now properly stored in a way that prevents your kids from accessing them may make the judge more comfortable awarding you custody of the children.

Your Kids Have Mental Health Problems

Another reason you may be denied custody—or awarded limited custody or visitation—is because your child suffers from a mental health issue. Unfortunately, there is a stigma that people with mental health disorders are more prone to being violent. Thus, the judge may be concerned your child will purposefully attempt to access your firearm to self-harm or hurt others if he or she has psychological problems.

This issue can be challenging to overcome, especially if your child actually does have a history of violent behavior. Since untreated mental health disorders are more likely to lead to social and behavioral problems, making sure your child gets the care he or she needs may alleviate some of the judge's concern. Again, making sure your firearms are adequately secured or hidden in the home may also be helpful.

For assistance with this or other custody issues, contact a child custody attorney.