Questions of child custody are among the most hotly contested in any divorce proceeding. This is especially true when one parent believes that the other is “unfit.” In such situations, it is wise to consult with experienced child custody attorneys to determine the steps that should be taken.
When one parent believes that the other is unfit, pursuing sole custody is an option. However, it is vital to keep in mind that in family law courts across the country, judges act in the best interests of the child. In most cases, it’s considered beneficial to the child to have relationships with both parents.
Accordingly, while parents may not agree on a suitable bedtime or whether or not their child should participate in soccer, these differences do not make one parent or the other unfit. In other words, it is the responsibility of the individual who believes that they are the “better parent” to prove this to the court.
Doing so is not easy, especially since courts tend to want children to maintain a relationship with both parents. This is one of the reasons why a seasoned family law attorney is such an indispensable ally. Not only can they help you to understand the laws that may make it possible for you to achieve sole custody, but also they can file all necessary paperwork and make arguments before the court on your behalf.
If you believe that your co-parent is unfit, then you must have good reasons for doing so. Reasons that courts tend to recognize relate to abuse, neglect, alcoholism, drug use and mental illness. It is essential that you begin to gather evidence that supports your claim that at least one of these behaviors or conditions prevents your ex-spouse from being a suitable parent.
Such evidence may include video or audio files that demonstrate abusive or neglectful behavior on the part of your co-parent. Photographs of injuries and medical files that support injury claims further are useful. If the ex-spouse has a criminal record, this may be admissible as well. Other evidence could include transcripts of exchanges between the ex-spouses or between the ex-spouse and the child.
Similarly, it may be useful to schedule appointments for your child with medical and mental health professionals. These experts will evaluate your child’s well-being, possibly also discussing the child’s relationship with their parents. The other parent’s consent may be necessary for these evaluations, so be certain to consult with your attorney.
With the evidence being gathered, your attorney will want to start on the necessary forms that must be filed with the court. These forms will be served to your ex-spouse, and a hearing date will be set. Your attorney will attend the hearing with you. In the hearing, your evidence and your reasons for seeking sole custody will be presented to the judge.
Proving that another parent is unfit isn’t easy, but it’s possible with the help of an experienced child custody attorney. The first step is to schedule a consultation.