Frequently Asked Questions About Unfit Parents

During child custody cases, the courts will rule depending on the child's best interests. Therefore, the court will deny custody to an unfit parent. Your child custody attorney can help prove the other parent isn't fit to have custody of the child. Here are some frequently asked questions about unfit parents.

Who Is an Unfit Parent?

There's no universal definition of an unfit parent. The term "unfit parent" varies based on your jurisdiction. For example, in Nevada, an unfit parent doesn't provide their child with proper support, guidance, and care.

In Illinois, an unfit parent abandons, neglects, deserts, depraves, or abuses their child. Illinois law further defines parental unfitness as a person's failure to have a reasonable degree of responsibility, interest, or concern for their child's welfare. Your child custody lawyer will give you the appropriate definition of an unfit parent based on your jurisdiction.

How Does the Court Determine If a Parent Is Unfit?

One of the things the court will use to determine a parent's fitness is a history of child abuse. The court frowns upon parents who have a history of abusing their children. A parent with a history of substance abuse will also look bad in court. However, if the parent has made an effort to stay sober, they may have a chance of being awarded custody.

A parent with a history of domestic violence is also deemed to be unfit. The court will also consider a parent's ability to make decisions for their child. For example, the court will consider the parent's decisions regarding the child's friends, religious activities, and TV programs. Other factors that will influence the court's decision on a parent's fitness include the parent's living conditions, their work schedule, and the child's opinion about their parent.

What Are the Consequences of an Unfit Parent Proceeding?

An unfit parent proceeding is where the court examines a parent's ability to raise a child. The laws on these proceedings vary depending on one's jurisdiction. However, these proceedings aim to place the child under better care.

The consequences of these proceedings include loss of the right to child custody and visitation. The unfit parent also loses the right to make legal decisions affecting the child. Additionally, the court transfers custody to another guardian or parent or gives up the child for adoption.

In some cases, the unfit parent may be required to pay civil damages if the child has sustained injuries or losses because of the parent's actions. In serious cases, the unfit parent may face criminal charges.