What constitutes an unfit parent?

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2021 | Child Custody And Support |

Parents who are divorcing have to make several decisions concerning their minor children. One of the most important issues regards child custody — will one parent in Missouri have sole custody or will parents share custody? It all depends upon a number of factors, and one of those is if a parent is labeled as unfit to care for his or her children. But how is this decided and who makes the decision?

Legal definition

The state and federal definitions of an unfit parent coincide. Essentially, an unfit parent is one who is abusive, neglectful, fails to give the children proper care and shelter, has mental or emotional issues, or who struggles with alcohol or drug addiction. Anything a parent does to undermine the physical or emotional well-being of his or her children might be considered unfit.

Consistent behavior

People are human and occasionally make mistakes. Most judges won’t declare a parent unfit unless negative behaviors happen consistently. When a parent neglects a child and is unable to provide care, support and guidance, a family court judge will want to see proof before making any ruling. If the evidence provided is both substantial and valid that a parent is being neglectful, abusive or has been found violating controlled substance laws, then he or she will more likely be considered an unfit parent.

Unfit parents in Missouri are not given custodial rights of their children. Parents who have this allegation foisted upon them would be wise to seek out legal counsel as soon as possible. Getting proper legal advice and guidance could mean the difference between being granted adequate custody of one’s children and receiving an unfavorable outcome in a child custody battle.