Definition of an Unfit Parent
What factors determine whether a parent is deemed to be ‘unfit’? When speaking in legal terms, this distinction is given by the court after considering a number of factors. As in any custody case, the best interests of the child are always a number one priority. Finding a parent legally ‘unfit’ comes with serious consequences.
Situations Where a Parent Would Be Considered Unfit
Each state has its own particular definition of what deems a parent to be declared unfit. A family law firm can answer questions concerning the laws in this state and how they pertain to your particular situation. In most states, reasons to declare a parent unfit may include:
- A parent with a history of substance abuse that relapses and cannot adequately care for the child
- Child abandonment
- Child desertion
- Child abuses
- A parent’s inability to show a certain level of concern, interest, or responsibility of the welfare of the child
- Child cruelty
In every state, the sole factor in determining whether or not a parent is unfit, or in any child custody concerns, is the best interests of the child is always the top priority.
Particulars the Court Looks at in Determining an Unfit Parent
A child custody evaluation may consider these factors when determining whether or not a parent is considered legally unfit:
- Is the parent setting limits for the child that are age appropriate?
- Does the parent respond and understand the needs of the child?
- Does the parent have a history of successfully taking care of the child without relying totally on the other parent?
- Does the parent use reasonable methods for resolving conflict and has that parent been cooperative during the divorce proceedings?
- Is there any history of child abuse with that parent and other children? Is there any evidence of current child abuse?
- Does the parent emotionally or physically abuse the other parent and has the child been a witness to this abuse?
- Are there any illegal or prescription drug abuse or alcohol abuse issues with the parent?
- Are there any serious psychological issues that the parent suffers from that may be potentially harmful to the well-being of the child?
- Does the parent display socially unfit behavior such as keeping totally to themselves or alienating themselves from neighbors and friends?
- How does the child feel about the parent? Does the child fear the parent or feel uncomfortable around the parent?
Unfit Parent Consequences
If a parent is considered by the court to be unfit, the resulting consequences may include:
- The parental rights terminated
- Custody denied
- Custody is given to the other parent
- Visitation privilege modifications denied
- In extreme cases, if both parents are found to be unfit, the child may be adopted by another family
Contact an Attorney
If you are concerned that your child may be unsafe in the home of the custodial parent or if you are concerned you may lose custody of your child because someone else feels you are an unfit parent, contact a law firm. Their child custody lawyers can work with you to see that your rights and the child’s best interests are represented and protected.