One of my readers wrote in to me and asked me how she might be able to prove that the other parents and her custody case is an unfit parent. So I thought that would be a good thing to talk about during this week’s blog post. So if you’re going through a custody case and you’re seeking sole custody or sole decision making over your children.
One of the ways that you might go about getting that is proving that the other parent is unfit, and it’s not that it’s not always that easy to prove. The other parents is unfit, but there are a few different angles that you can take and trying to convince the judge that the other parent is is unfit and not in a position to have custody of the children. So I’ve been successful in my own law practice in proving unfitness when a parent has a significant substance abuse issue.
A substance abuse issue can be significant if it’s an issue that’s been continuing for a good number of years and it goes away and then it comes back and then it goes away and it comes back and you’re able to show that the parent with the issue just continues to relapse and they’re not able to be stable or solid for any length that significant length of time.
But another way even if there isn’t a long-standing drug abuse history that you can show that a parent is unfit is that they have a current substance abuse issue whether it’s an addiction to alcohol or drugs and they could be illegal drugs or they could be legal prescription drugs. If those drugs are being abused in other words, if the parents not are the parents not following the doctor’s orders or if the parents taking prescription drugs without a prescription which does happen a lot. So in these cases where the parent is struggling with the current issue, even if it hasn’t been a lengthy history. I would ask that that parent be subjected or be required to take ongoing drug tests. And if the parent refuses to take the drug test or they keep coming back positive or they’re missing test or they have diluted samples. Then that may be an indication that there is a problem that needs to be fixed before they can be trusted to have the children and make decisions regarding the children.
Substance Abuse Screening And Treatment Program
Another thing that I might ask for it when a parent has a substance abuse issue is that that parent be required to go through some sort of substance abuse screening and treatment program. So what that means is in many places there are programs where the parent has to go and get interviewed and get assessed to determine how significant the drug issue is or the alcohol issue is and based on that assessment whoever the center is that’s making the assessment might make recommendations for a relapse prevention program for Or outpatient therapy or something like that.
So in addition to the drug testing, I might request a substance abuse screening and or treatment protocol to be followed. So that’s one way of going about trying to prove unfitness. Another way might be is if a parent is neglectful towards the children, they’re not feeding the children when they’re supposed to be feeding the children. They are not making Sure, the children get to school on time. They’re not making sure that the children and do homework the children are showing up to school tired or dirty or without lunches or with roses on them and that goes to abuse that’s not only neglect. But that’s abuse. So if you can show that the parent has a pattern of neglecting the children that might be another way that you can go about attacking their fitness as a parent.
So I touched on a fuse just briefly but if there are abuse problems either in the past or current abuse problems if there are CPS reports from the past if there’s police reports if there’s orders of protection if there are criminal cases that have happened in the past or criminal convictions that have happened in the past that would show evidence that the parent has been abusing the children or is abusive or has an abusive personality.
I would bring all of that up in trying to establish that one parent is unfit. So those are just a few examples of how I might show that now one thing that you have to keep in mind is just because a parent might have a substance abuse issue doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is unfit or just because a parent has a conviction for spanking a child, you know, assaulting a child in the past that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be unfit right now right here.
Considering The Judge
The judge is going to look at a lot of factors the best. Risk factors that I talked a lot about in these posts the judge will look at all of these factors and take them together and consider them together and in trying to make a decision about whether a parent is fit or not fit. So I wouldn’t necessarily hang my hat on one of these factors.
One of the factors could be enough to do it, but not necessarily, you know, and I’ll tell you about a case that I had probably 15 years ago where I represented father and there were little kids and the mother of the children was addicted to methamphetamine and it wasn’t a long-standing addiction. She hadn’t been addicted very long for like a couple of years, but she was so addicted that she wasn’t taking the drug tests and you could tell that she was doing meth because she was very thin and when she did take drug tests, they were coming out positive for meth. But despite this the judge really wanted her to play a role in the lives of her children.
So the judge did give the parties joint custody with my client having the final say if there was a dispute about a major medical educational or religious decision, but what the judge did do was limited that parents access to the children. He only gave her supervised visits. That way he could make sure that the children were safe and that they were not at risk when they were in mother’s care. The only way that she could see them was when my client was around or when some other supervisor was around.
So when you’re seeking sole decision-making keep in mind, even if the other parent is unfit a judges may not a judge may not choose to limit that person’s custody but instead may choose to make sure that the children are safe by limiting that parents parenting time. So I hope this information helped you as far as proving unfitness and another parent.
There are probably more than just the ways that I mentioned this short post to prove and fitness but those are a few of the most common examples that I have used in my own practice and that I see coming up in the courtroom on a regular basis.