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Home Blog 10 Factors Used To Determine If A Parent Is Unfit For Custody In 2021

10 Factors Used To Determine If A Parent Is Unfit For Custody In 2021

A child always stands to benefit more by spending time with both parents after a divorce; this is why joint custody rulings are the most prevalent in family courts. Family courts place the child’s best interest as the most crucial consideration during custody cases. The family courts understand that parents might have their flaws regarding child-rearing, and one may have better parenting skills than the other, and this is rarely a case for discrimination in custody rulings. However, if one parent is declared unfit for custody, the court might take specific measures to limit interaction with the child. Your child custody attorney needs to be aware if you have any reason to suspect that your spouse could be unfit for the custody of your child after divorce.

Who Is An Unfit Parent?

A parent can be declared unfit by a family court if their conduct is analyzed and found to be a potential cause of danger to a child’s wellbeing and health. This can be either emotional or physical harm. The unfit parent cannot provide the needed conditions for the child’s optimum care and welfare.

When parents disagree on custody during a divorce, the judge cannot forfeit one parent’s right to custody based on the other’s allegations. A child custody evaluation may be called either by the request of one of the parents or by the court’s discretion. The primary purpose of the evaluation is to determine the child’s best interest by scrutinizing the parent’s conduct in-depth. We’ll go through 10 factors evaluators regularly focus on.

1. Ability To Set Age-appropriate Restrictions

The evaluator, in this case, will seek to know if a parent makes parental decisions on restrictions based on the age of the child. This includes an overview of how they deal with children of various ages. A young child of say 8 years, for instance, should not be allowed to watch R-rated movies. The evaluator will also want to know how a parent deals with their teenage child. Whether or not they limit their movements out of the house past a specific time and if that is appropriate.

2. Understanding and Able To Care For The Child’s Needs

Children generally learn a lot through observation, listening, and communication. The evaluator will seek to know the parent’s involvement and attention in the child’s overall needs. Does the child communicate freely with the parent? If not, what steps is the parent taking to foster the communication? Does the parent pay attention and is considerate to the child’s needs? Effective communication can also enable a parent to detect any behavioral changes in children. All these are critical telltale signs for an evaluator to determine the parent’s level of care for the child’s needs.

3. History Of Childcare And Education

The evaluator will be keen on the parent’s involvement in the child’s overall welfare before the divorce. An evaluation on which parent has always played the role of primary caregiver during the marriage and the role played by the other parent. Both parents are expected to take care of the child by themselves, so the evaluator will also seek to know if a parent has been heavily relying on the other for this.

4. Child Abuse Or Neglect Allegations

A parent with a prior history of child abuse or neglect may be declared unfit for custody by a family court. A custody evaluator will look into any of the allegations and follow it through with the Child Welfare Services. It’s crucial to alert relevant authorities if you suspect any form of child abuse, as this is a factor that can never be downplayed. In extreme cases of proven abuse and violence on a child, the judge has the liberty to terminate parental rights.

5. Domestic Violence

Other than abuse against the child, the evaluator will also look into past claims of domestic violence meted on one of the parents. The court will seek to know the causes, the frequency it occurred, and most importantly, if the child had to witness it. It’s also important to show the evaluator any restraining orders or police reports on the alleged domestic violence claims.

6. Substance And Alcohol Abuse

Suspicions and the extent of substance and alcohol abuse on a parent will be investigated by the evaluator and tabled in a family court for a child’s safety. Substance abuse can range from illegal to prescription drugs. Impairment from these drugs can create an unsafe environment for children and may also pose great danger. A parent hooked to drugs or alcohol will quickly put their addictions before the child’s welfare. Such parents may be considered unfit based on the extent of the substance abuse and alcohol effects.

7. Mental illness

If a parent has been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, the evaluator will investigate the level of risk it poses on the child’s overall welfare. Factors surrounding mental illness and how a parent manages it will come to a direct focus. If it is determined that the children will be safe and the condition is contained, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

8. Cooperation With The Other Parent

How do the parents resolve their conflicts? Do they consider the child’s interests above their own? These are some of the questions the evaluator will want answers to. The parents are expected to cooperate on issues concerning the child and avoid arguing or belittling one another, more so in front of the child.

9. The Child’s Attitude And Opinion

How a child feels about a parent can be investigated by the evaluator; how they behave before visits can shed light on relationship problems. Children above the age of 12, who can express their thoughts, are sometimes allowed in some jurisdictions to state their preference when it comes to a custody determination.

10. The Parent’s Work Schedule

The court will also consider a parent’s work schedule in custody determination. If a parent’s nature of work involves long or odd hours and spends little time with the child, the court may give an ultimatum for a change in jobs or working hours to ensure a steady home life for the child.

Feel free to contact us at for expert guidance if you’re facing an imminent divorce or considering divorcing your spouse. At Jensen Family Law, we are proud to represent you!

Jensen Family Law,
3740 E Southern Ave Suite 210 Mesa AZ 85206,
(480) 999-232.

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Jensen Family Law in Mesa is located on 3740 E Southern Ave Suite 210, 85206 Mesa, Arizona. From Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Take S 41st St to E Sky Harbor Blvd, then Head west on E Sky Harbor Blvd and Use the left lane to take the exit toward S 41st St. Then Turn right onto S 41st St. After that, Continue straight to stay on S 41st St, then Take AZ-202 Loop E, AZ-101 Loop S and US-60 E to S Val Vista Dr in Mesa. Take exit 184 from US-60 E after that Merge onto E Sky Harbor Blvd, then Use the left 2 lanes to merge onto AZ-202 Loop E toward Tempe/Mesa and Use the right 3 lanes to take exit 9 to Merge onto AZ-101 Loop S. After that, Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 55A-B to merge onto US-60 E toward Globe, then Take exit 184 for Val Vista Dr. Then Continue on S Val Vista Dr to your destination and Turn left onto S Val Vista Dr. Turn right onto E Southern Ave, then Turn left and Destination will be on the right.

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For additional questions you can call us at (480) 999-2321 ro you can find us on Yelp.