When Is a Parent Unfit for Custody
There are times when a couple is separated, and one of the parents is unfit to care for the child. An unfit parent is defined as someone who is unable to provide the proper care and guidance a child needs in a home.
When an unfit parent raises a child it creates an unstable environment that hinders the child’s life and well-being. If your ex-spouse is misbehaving and seems unfit to take care of your child, keep reading to learn about the steps you need to take to get the support your child needs.
When Is a Parent Unfit for Custody?
A parent is unfit for custody when they are engaged in illegal activity, if they are breaking the law then they will be seen unfit for custody by the court. If there is a history of criminal activity whether it’s drug use, speeding, or other illicit activity. Then it would show the judge that the parent cannot take responsibility for being a caregiver.
The court might limit visitation by ordering that all visits be supervised. However, outright denial of parenting time is extremely rare. That being said, the court might also decide to reduce the amount of parenting time depending on the circumstances, and if doing so is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. If it involves a serious case like domestic violence or sexual assault the other party will be taken to jail and you will be given full custody of the child.
Here are some things that can be considered as being an unfit parent:
• Verbal abuse
• Illegal activity
• Domestic Violence
• The pattern of repeated behavior that shows a lack of responsibility
• History of destructive activity
Is “best interest” Considered at all When Deciding to Modify Child Custody?
When the court is deciding to modify child custody they will be looking at 12 factors of the child’s best interest.
Do not allow the varied terminology to trick you into thinking that the best interest standard is abandoned when seeking modification of the child custody arrangement. Unlike the modification of spousal support, the court uses more specific rules and standards when dealing with child custody. Understanding these factors will give you a better gauge on whether your ex-spouse is an unfit parent or not.
Any change of circumstance being used to justify a change in custody must be directly related to the child’s best interest and well-being.
Examples of such a change might be drug abuse, violence, or neglect by the current custodial parent.
Furthermore, the court will explicitly reject the use of certain changes in circumstances such as:
• The current custodial parent’s financial situation, if the problem could be rectified by increasing the noncustodial parent’s child support payments
• The normal changes in needs and desires associated with a child growing up and maturing
• The child’s expressed a desire (relevant to initial custody, but is not considered relevant when it changes)
My ex-spouse has physical custody and wants to leave the state and take the children far away. Is there anything I can do to stop him/her?
If the parent with physical custody wants to relocate out of state or more than 100 miles from their other parent, they need to get court approval first. While you (the non -custodial parent) cannot outright stop them from moving, the Michigan family courts will do their best to make sure that the move is actually in the children’s best interest.
The court uses a five-prong test to make this determination:
• Whether the move will improve the quality of life for both the moving parent and the child
• Whether the move was explicitly intended to interfere with the other parent’s access to the children (in which case permission will likely be denied)
• Whether the court will be able to modify the parenting time arrangement in order to preserve the relationship with the other parent, as well as the likelihood of both parents complying with the new arrangement (not necessarily a deal breaker).
• Whether the other parent (i.e. you) is trying to oppose the move for the sole purpose of gaining an advantage regarding child support payments
• Any history of domestic violence seen by or directed against the children
Please note that this test will not be applied at all if you (the non -custodial parent) do not have legal custody of the children (i.e. not joint custody). It should be noted that
where there is no joint custody, there is no need to give the non-custodial parent notice, ask permission, nor will the court consider the above factors
in order to decide whether or not to allow the move.
Here are some tips for separated couples taking care of a child. It’s important to be informed on how to co-parent and work with the other party when taking care of a child:
• Minimize the exposure of your children to fighting between you and your former spouse Resolve any conflicts without actively involving your children or using them as bargaining chips
• Do not disparage or insult your former spouse (the other parent) in front of your children
• Try to keep activities and discipline consistent in your household regardless of the upheaval being experienced by the whole family
• Don’t try to micromanage your kids’ activities with their other parents.
• Try to be civil and willing to communicate with the other parent
If you believe that your ex-spouse is an unfit parent for your child, contact our attorneys at The Lockwood Legal Group now my phone or send us an email. Our highly qualified Family law attorneys will make sure your child is in the right hands. There are many factors when it comes to modifying child support but there is always a way to get a more fair outcome.
These types of cases require a professional to help guide you and direct you to a place to get the best outcome that you desire. If you need more information regarding child custody in The State of Michigan contact The Lockwood legal group Law Firm. Our attorneys are experts in family law and they will thoroughly examine all aspects of your custody matter. With the best lawyers in Michigan, you will have the most vigorous representation money can buy.