What Does It Take To Declare Someone An Unfit Parent?

Posted on: 29 March 2018

What can you do when your child's other parent has turned into someone utterly unrecognizable to you?

If you're horrified by your ex's behavior and really believe that he or she is an unfit parent, the last thing you want to do is spend the first 18 years of your child's life fighting over custody, dreading every visitation day, or trying to repair the emotional damage this person does every time he or she comes in and out of your lives.

Asking the Court to Intervene

If the situation is bad enough, you can go into court and ask the judge to declare your child's other parent unfit. If you're successful, it may be possible to terminate his or her parental rights entirely -- which will allow you and your child to move on.

Keep in mind that this is a very serious request -- not something that court will casually consider. You'll have an easier time with the process if you have plenty of documentation to show the judge, so start gathering everything you can -- including police reports, arrest records, psychological evaluations, counselor reports, and school records -- that supports your case.

Finding Grounds to Act

Every state has its own rules for what exactly meets the legal requirements to declare a parent "unfit." However, most states will consider the following things evidence that someone isn't able to parent:

  • The parent has neither maintained contact with the child nor paid support in several years
  • The parent physically abandoned the child to the care of others
  • There is evidence that the parent has a long-term drug addiction or alcohol dependency 
  • There is evidence of a serious psychological impairment that is untreatable or long-standing
  • The parent has been convicted of abusing or neglecting his or her other children 
  • The child has been sexually abused by the parent
  • The child has been the victim of chronic neglect and abuse

It's also important to know that 30 states will terminate the rapist's parental rights if the child was conceived as a result of the rape and 20 states have laws that put some form of restriction on parents convicted of other forms of sexual assault. These laws are constantly evolving right now, so it pays to keep checking on your own state's information if this applies to your situation.

Taking the Next Step

If you've been searching for a way to deal with an unbearable situation with your child's other parent, talk to attorney services today about the possibility of asking the court to intervene on your behalf.