How to prove a parent unfit in child custody cases

Written by andrea townsley
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How to prove a parent unfit in child custody cases
Proving a parent unfit can be shaky ground. (Mother abuses the daughter for a fault 1 image by Mykola Velychko from

Child custody is not something that should be taken lightly. Parties seeking to prove a parent unfit for the purpose of adopting a child or securing legal guardianship need to be mindful of the local laws governing custody proceedings. Making sure you get the facts straight is critical to presenting a compelling case that a parent is not fit to have custody of her children. The main goal is to prove that the parent is subjecting the child to abuse or neglect, be it physical or psychological.

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  1. 1

    Research everything you can about the parent you claim is unfit. This includes all criminal history, drug use, domestic violence, abuse allegations and participation in unsavory activities. If the parent has previously had an open case with child protective services, this is not public record but if you know this case exists, you may bring it up at the custody hearing.

  2. 2

    Identify any risk factors in the home of the parent. If the child is routinely exposed to dangerous objects or situations, the court needs to know about it. The neighbourhood may also come into play if it is a rough area with a high crime rate.

  3. 3

    Request that the parent be evaluated by a psychologist. This can give insight into the way the parent thinks and if abuse is likely to occur; of course, it is not definitive but it will glean a professional opinion from someone who is licensed in this area. Drug use may also come up in the interview and you may be able to use this to your benefit.

  4. 4

    See if the judge will approve a psychological evaluation of the child. If the parent is emotionally abusing the child or purposely delaying development in the case of a baby, this will be evident in the evaluation. School records can also help if the child is school-age.

  5. 5

    Ask your attorney to subpoena the child's medical records if you know there have been previous incidents that may point to abuse. Hospital records and doctors' notes can be important when citing potential abuse.

  6. 6

    Try to figure out if the parent has the financial means to support the child. If the parent cannot consistently provide adequate support for the child, use this in your claim.

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