Ask a Family Law Attorney: How is Someone Deemed Unfit to be a Parent in CA?

family law attorneysUnfortunately, not every parent is up to the task of caring for their child. A parent may sometimes be unable to provide proper guidance, care, support, and any other basic needs that a child requires. In more severe cases, a parent’s actions or behaviors may directly endanger the health and well-being of a child. 

In these cases, it is possible for the state of California to formally assess the parent and make the determination that he/she is not fit to parent his/her children. This is often a last resort, as the state favors ensuring that a child is able to have a relationship with both parents under most circumstances. Thus, in order for a parent to be deemed unfit, there needs to be copious evidence and a formal assessment conducted by the family law courts.

What Are the Factors That Determine if a Parent is Unfit?

The CA family law courts understand that an assessment of being unfit to parent is a drastic and extreme measure. Before they’ll make such an assessment, they often require thorough evidence or the presence of factors such as:

  • Emotional, physical, sexual abuse
  • Substance abuse 
  • Domestic violence
  • Neglect
  • Incarceration or criminal activity/behavior
  • Mental illness

During the course of child custody proceedings, one or both parents can ask that the courts conduct a child custody evaluation. This can provide the courts with the opportunity to uncover proof or evidence of these factors.

Factors that Do Not Influence Whether a Parent is Unfit

There are several factors that do not play into this equation, however. This is to ensure that no one’s parental rights are violated or compromised unfairly. These factors which cannot be used to determine whether a parent is not fit include:

  • Race
  • FInancial status
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation

After the assessment, the courts might choose to take a variety of actions. For example, they may opt to modify custody or visitation arrangements, as well as outright denial for custody or visitation depending on the severity of the circumstances.

Check in with a CA Family Law Attorney Today

If you’re struggling with any custody or visitation issues in CA, or want to petition that the family law courts take a closer look at the living situation in your household and that of your ex’s, your first step should always be to consult with a family lawyer first. At R & S Law Group, LLP we can help you explore your legal options. First, we’ll take the time to fully understand your specific situation before we work with you to guide you towards a favorable outcome. Learn more by calling us at (949) 825-5245 today.