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Can your ex lose custody for failing to use a child car seat?

If you are a parent, you probably recognize the inherent dangers motor vehicles present to the young ones in your family. Indeed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents claimed the lives of more than 600 minors in the U.S. in 2019 alone. That year, nearly 100,000 kids suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

Even though you recognize that strapping your kids into size-appropriate car seats is non-negotiable, your ex has a more cavalier attitude. Still, can your former spouse lose custody of your children for failing to use car seats?

Not following the law

All 50 states have laws on the books that require parents to restrain their children when they are in cars, trucks and SUVs. If your ex violates an applicable law, he or she may receive a costly citation. Beyond that, though, your former spouse is not likely to lose custody of your kids simply for failing to use car seats.

Drawing the attention of protective services

If your ex-spouse has a serious car accident when your unrestrained children are in his vehicle, protective services may decide to open an investigation against him or her. In theory, this investigation could lead to the loss of parental rights. In practice, though, it is much more likely your former partner will have to participate in a diversionary program, such as remediation or parental education.

It is not a bad idea to keep evidence of anything your ex-spouse does to endanger your kids, however. Ultimately, if you can prove your ex is an unfit parent, you eventually may be able to convince a judge to rethink your existing custody arrangement.