What is an Unfit Parent in Child Custody Cases?
If you are getting a divorce, you may have custody concerns, especially if you believe your ex-spouse is unfit to care for the children. You want your children to have the best experience with both parents, but you also want to protect them if you believe their mental and physical well-being is endangered while with the other parent.
Generally, courts won’t interfere with a parent’s custody rights unless there is a severe problem, such as being an unfit parent. An unfit parent is one who behaves in such a manner that they fail to provide proper care, guidance, and support to the children. Family lawyers in Overland Park say a parent will also be deemed unfit if they have substance abuse issues or abuse the children.
What Factors Do Judges Use to Determine a Parent’s Unfitness?
Judges always consider the best interests of the child when awarding custody. The ideal situation is for a child to spend time with both parents despite the divorce. So, they won’t deny a parent their custody rights on claims of being unfit unless there is sufficient evidence.
Child custody lawyers in Overland Park explain some of the factors that judges use to determine if a parent is unfit to be granted custody:
History of Childcare Involvement
Judges will evaluate a parent’s track record of looking after the children’s welfare. A factor that could indicate poor childcare involvement is relying excessively on the other parent to care for the children. Both parents should be actively involved in caring for their children while sharing crucial information concerning them.
Each parent should also be able to care for the children independently without help. If they constantly ask for help from the other parent or family members, it could be a sign that they’re unfit for custody.
Understanding and Responding to the Children’s Needs
A child needs to feel the love and care of both parents. A parent must be sensitive to their children’s needs and communicate with them appropriately. Disconnection with a parent could mean the child doesn’t receive the care or attention they need. A parent’s non-responsiveness could make them miss out on forming a strong relationship with the child.
Child Abuse and Neglect
A parent with a history of abusing or neglecting their children is unfit for custody. If Child Welfare Services have been involved in a household a lot, it could be a sign that the parent in question is unfit and custody needs to change.
Child Protection Services and skilled child custody attorneys in Overland Park often come in handy in determining whether abuse and neglect should be substantiated.
A parent who is physically or emotionally abusive to the other parent could be considered unfit. No child should have to witness one parent being mean to the other. Neither is it right for parents to be abusive to each other.
Setting Age-Appropriate Limits
Parents have authority over their children and should set age-appropriate limits to protect children from harmful exposure. While parents won’t always agree on age-appropriate limitations, a parent who allows extreme situations may be deemed unfit.
For example, does your ex-spouse allow a 5-year to watch R-rated content regularly? Do they set reasonable curfews for your teenage child? Minor issues such as the appropriate bedtime may not have much impact in this case and may not warrant your ex-spouse being declared unfit.
The Children’s Attitude Toward the Parent
How children feel toward each parent is crucial in custody determination. Generally, children are supposed to feel comfortable with their parents, but if they exhibit fear and hatred, it could be an issue of concern. It could mean their relationship with that parent is broken and needs to be fixed. Granting custody to such a parent could worsen the condition.
What Evidence Can I Present to Prove My Ex is Unfit?
Proving that a parent is unfit can be challenging, and you must have compelling evidence to support or substantiate your claims. Depending on the circumstances, the court could order a child custody evaluation. The evaluator is an independent investigator, and their report bears much weight in determining the court’s decision.
Your child custody lawyers in Overland Park can also help you gather more evidence, such as the following, to create a compelling case:
- Testimonies from therapists, coaches, teachers, counselors, and other people who have witnessed or are familiar with instances when the parent has exhibited unfit behavior
- Police reports and protective orders dealing with domestic violence
- School and medical records
- Records of home visits and inspections
- Photographs and videos of the parent’s home
- Criminal records, if any
If a judge finds the other parent unfit, the decision may be to order sole custody to you. Your ex-spouse may be granted supervised or restricted visitation. Only in rare circumstances will a court terminate an unfit parent’s rights after carefully examining all factors.
An Experienced Child Custody Attorney Protecting Your Child’s Rights
Courts must intervene and protect children from unfit parents when determining custody cases. Judges can evaluate various factors to determine a parent’s fitness and deny them visitation rights if the situation demands it. Resolving the issue of parental unfitness revolves around the child’s best interests.
If you determine that your ex-spouse is unfit for child custody, contact experienced family attorneys in Overland Park. They can help you collect credible evidence to prove why granting custody to the unfit parent would undermine your child’s well-being. Barnds Law, LLC, hosts experienced lawyers who can provide legal support to help you fight for a favorable outcome. Call us at (913) 514-0909 for a case strategy.