Determining an Unfit Parent in 2019
Custody disputes can be the most challenging part of a divorce or breakup. Both parents will want as much time as possible with their child or children. When determining custody the court will always make a decision on what is in the child’s best interest. No parent is perfect so little imperfections will not strip a parent of their rights, however, being an unfit parent will cause the court to reduce or limit the interaction between that parent and the child or children.
What exactly is an unfit parent? The legal definition of an unfit parent is when the parent through their conduct fails to provide proper guidance, care, or support. Also, if there is abuse, neglect, or substance abuse issues, that parent will be deemed unfit. Most cases where a parent is deemed unfit, Child Welfare Services has been involved and there may be a safety plan or an open active investigation against the parent.
During a divorce, parents might not agree on custody issues, or one parent might not trust the other with the children. On the order of a judge or at the request of a parent, a child custody evaluation may be held. The purpose is to determine if allowing one or both parents custody is in the child’s best interest, or if the child’s health, safety, and welfare are at risk. The evaluator will consider the following ten factors when making a determination.
1. Setting Age-Appropriate Limits
- Is a 5 year old child allowed to watch R-rated movies on a regular basis?
- What kind of curfew does the parent set for a teenager?
Parents will not always agree about what is age appropriate limitations, but when you have one parent who is allowing extreme situations, this may be a red flag. When parents share joint legal custody, they should jointly make decisions about what is age appropriate but this does not include little things such as bed time. This is when co-parenting comes into play and you have to trust your co-parent is making appropriate decisions in their household.