How do you determine whether a parent is unfit for custody 2022?

Friday 8th July 2022

Custody disputes are a common part of a divorce or breakup with both parents wanting to be with the child. However, if one parent is unfit for custody, you may wish to limit, supervise or remove interaction between the parent and children.

We can help you navigate this complex process so you can protect your child and ensure they grow up in a healthy and happy environment. If you believe a parent is unfit for custody, contact us for help.

Reasons a parent might be unfit

Legally, a parent is unfit for custody when they don’t provide proper guidance, care or support to the children. This can be caused by various factors that mean they are unable to take care of the children effectively or their actions place the children in danger.

Reasons can include:

● Child abuse – There is a history of child abuse including mental and physical abuse

● Substance abuse – The parent has struggled with addiction in the past or there is a risk of exposure within the household

Domestic abuse – The child has witnessed abuse at home

● Communication – The parent is unable to communicate effectively with the child

● Lack of a functional relationship with the child – The parent is unable to identify a child’s needs or changes in behaviour

● Psychiatric concerns – The parent suffers from a mental health disorder that is unpredictable or aggressive

● Living conditions – These must meet the child’s needs

● Parent’s working schedule – The parent works for long hours outside of the house and is unable to provide a stable home life for the child

Behaviours a court could use to find a parent unfit

If a parent is deemed to be unfit for custody, the court will limit, supervise or remove interaction between the parent and children or could remove custody completely.

Once the child reaches the age of 12, their opinion will also be taken into consideration, unless the mistreatment is so severe that the child has strong negative opinions about the parent in question.

A decision will always be made for the benefit and welfare of the child. The behaviours that could be used include the above plus…

● An inability to meet their needs for food, clothing and shelter

● An inability to discipline the child fairly

● A history of criminal offences or imprisonment

● An inability to set age-appropriate limits

● An inability to parent without support from the other parent

● An inability to function socially

● An inability to meet the emotional needs of the child

Our team of specialist Family Law solicitors can help you define which behaviours could be used to remove custody from a parent in the UK for the safeguarding of a child. Contact us to find out more.

Who determines that a parent is unfit?

A Judge will decide whether a parent is unfit for custody. This will follow a child custody evaluation and social services may also be involved, depending on your family history. The parent seeking full custody must prove that the other parent is unfit and does not hold capacity to care for the child/children in question. There are many ways you can achieve this. Speak to us today for advice and support.

What is considered an unsafe environment for children?

There’s a huge difference between parenting that you do not approve of and an environment that is unsafe for children. These pose threats to your children and mean that a court is likely to step in and remove custody.

An unsafe environment for a child can include:

● A home that is disorderly or unsafe

● Engagement in activities where they could get injured

● Intentional physical or mental abuse

● Neglecting the child and failing to meet their needs

● Failure to provide enough food or medical care

● Use of illegal drugs by members of the household

● Domestic violence to the child or another member of the household

● Sexual contact with the child

Consequences of being declared an unfit parent

If the judge decides that one parent is unfit for custody or the home is unsafe, the parent could lose custody. This is known as a ‘custody decision’. The other parent may be allowed unsupervised or supervised visitation rights or, in certain cases, these rights may be removed. If both parents are declared unfit, the child is likely to be removed and put into the care of family members or taken into foster care.

How can an unfit parent regain child custody?

A parent who has been deemed unfit can regain child custody under certain circumstances. They must be able to prove a change in their circumstances or behaviours to show that they can provide the care that the child needs.

First, they should seek legal advice and then request an evaluation. If they have followed court orders and can prove that they have changed, they may be able to regain custody of the child.

Have you been declared an unfit parent and want to regain custody? We can help. Contact us today for advice.

Dealing with an unfit parent? Get legal help from an attorney

You don’t have to solve this on your own. With the help of our expert solicitors, you can protect the health and wellbeing of your child and potentially remove custody from the other parent.

About Waldrons Our exceptional team of lawyers and solicitors can provide advice and representation across the West Midlands on a wide range of legal issues. This includes family and child law, personal injury and medical negligence, probate law, criminal litigation, corporate and commercial law and conveyancing.

We’re proud of our client satisfaction and success rates. Find out how we can help you today.