St. Louis Divorce Lawyers

Who Is Considered an Unfit Parent in Missouri?

Every custody case is unique, so the factors that a judge will consider when determining if a parent or guardian is unfit vary from one case to another.

Let’s get one thing clear: No parent is infallible! As such, it’s unlikely that having a few parenting imperfections will impact a child custody decision. However, being an unfit parent can alter the results of a custody case.

If deemed unfit, the parent in question may have restrictions placed on their visitation rights or even lose their parental privileges altogether. So what is an unfit parent? And how does the court determine if a parent or guardian is unfit?

What Is an Unfit Parent?

The definition of an unfit parent or guardian under Missouri law is essentially the same as other states across the US. Generally, Missouri defines an unfit parent as one whose conduct places a child in danger or causes emotional or psychological harm. Examples of unfit parents or guardians include those who are mentally unstable or use drugs.

How Does the Court Determine If a Parent or Guardian Is Unfit?

Every custody case is unique, so the factors that a judge will consider when determining if a parent or guardian is unfit vary from one case to another. That said, you can expect the judge to consider the following factors:

  • A history of substance abuse: The judge will likely be harsh on a parent or guardian with a history of substance abuse. However, the judge will likely be more lenient if the parent has shown the desire to quit drugs by joining a rehabilitation facility or an addict self-help group.
  • A history of domestic violence: The court evaluator will conduct a background check to see any domestic violence incidents. Even the slightest evidence of domestic violence can lead a judge or jury to deem a parent.
  • The child’s relationship with the parent: Naturally, children should feel safe and secure around their parents. So, if a child is not comfortable around one or both parents, the court may consider such parents unfit to take care of the child.

How Can You Prove Your Spouse Is Unfit?

As you can imagine, as the parent alleging unfitness, you’ll be required to provide substantial evidence to prove the other parent is incapable of caring for the child and ensuring the child’s welfare. This is not as easy as it sounds. You need to hire a child custody attorney to help you collect evidence and demonstrate abusive or neglectful behavior on the part of your ex.

Some of the evidence that your attorney can use include:

  • Statements from teachers, neighbors, and other witnesses familiar with specific instances in which your ex-spouse displayed unacceptable behavior.
  • Police reports detailing abusive or aggressive behavior on the part of your ex
  • School and medical records

The Betz Law Firm Is Here to Help!

Are you in the middle of a child custody battle? Our skilled attorneys can help you prove your ex is unfit. We can also help you disprove any evidence or claims you are unfit. Contact us today and schedule a free initial consultation.

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Our firm uses experience, good communication, and availability to help families get through life changing events.