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Proving a parent is unfit in a child custody case is not easy. Here are a few examples of how to gather evidence when dealing with substance abuse, child abuse or neglect.
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I’ve also included a real case where I represented a father with 2 children where the mother was addicted to methamphetamines.
If you are seeking sole custody of your child one way to do this is to prove that the other parent is unfit. Proving unfitness of a parent is not always easy to do. In my practice I have been able to prove unfitness of a parent by proving evidence of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, alcoholism, etc.
This includes both illegal drugs and prescription drugs. If the other parent has a history of drug abuse for a significant number of years this should be brought before the court. Also important is whether or not they are currently in a drug or alcohol treatment program. Have they been through treatment or rehab but continue to relapse?
However they don’t have to have a drug or alcohol problem for a number of years. If you can prove that their is drug or alcohol abuse going on presently this is also taken into consideration.
There are a things you can do to help prove drug abuse in a custody case:
1. Request ongoing court ordered drug tests in your custody case.
A failed drug test in a custody case can be a good indication of drug addiction in the parent.
2. Be required to get a drug screening and be evaluated for a drug treatment program at treatment center. This involves being interviewed and assessed on how significant the substance abuse is. The center can then recommend a treatment protocol to follow. If the other parent fails to follow the treatment program this is very good for your case.
Another Way to Show that a parent is unfit is to show evidence of child abuse or child neglect. Allegations of child abuse are very serious, so you must be prepared to back it up with proof. Abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse
Some examples of child neglect can be not providing meals when they should, skipping meals,, not monitoring the child doing homework, missing school, being left alone at house, if they go to school tired or dirty, or without lunches, etc. If you can show a pattern of neglect it can show the parent is neglectful and should not have custody or parenting time.
Also, if there is evidence of child abuse such as police reports, criminal conviction, restraining or protection orders they are good pieces of evidence to provide the judge in your custody battle. Now keep in mind that Just because the other parent has a substance abuse problem it does not necessarily mean they are unfit.
The judge will look at many factors which are called the ‘Best Interest of the Child’ factors which by law the court has to consider all as a whole when making a decision in a custody case. So I would not hang my hat on just this one factor. It might be that the judge not give you sole custody but reduce the parenting time of the other parent.
These are just a few examples to show unfitness of a parent in custody case. Substance Abuse and Neglect, Abuse are some very common issues that come through my office and which I have been successful in proving and securing sole custody of a child.
Wendy Hernandez is founder of ‘Command the Courtroom’ and a family law attorney in Phoenix Arizona.
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