You’re breaking up with your co-parent and going through the custody process. However, you don’t believe that your co-parent will do a good job raising your child, and you’re getting worried. You’re now wondering: what exactly is considered an unfit parent in Texas? By finding out the answer to your question, you can decide how to proceed in court.
Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC in Houston, Texas are certified in mediation, take a collaborative approach with their clients to ensure that their clients reach solutions that work for their families, and are devoted entirely to the practice of family law. We are fierce advocates for our clients and we’d be happy to assist you with child custody issues like custody modification. Reach out to us today for an initial consultation.
The Definition of an Unfit Parent
First, it’s crucial to learn the definition of an unfit parent. The definition of “unfit parent” is different for every state depending on the state’s laws. However, in general, abuse, neglect, imprisonment, and cruelty could classify a parent as being unfit.
The term “unfit parent” comes up when social services take a child away or when parents are going through custody proceedings. The judge will determine whether or not a parent is unfit. The judge will assume that both parents are fit unless there is evidence to the contrary – and it needs to be substantial. It cannot be one parent’s word against the other.
For instance, a father cannot say a mother is abusive. But if she was arrested for domestic violence against him or the child, then that is evidence that she is unfit. Or, if a father was stalking and harassing the mother and she took out a restraining order against him, that would also factor into the judge’s decision.
Unfit Parent Laws in Texas
Texas defines an unfit parent as a parent who would significantly, and negatively, affect a child’s development and emotional health. Some red flags that would qualify a parent as being unfit are a history of drug and alcohol abuse, family violence, emotional abuse, unstable living environment, and sex offenses on their record.
Evidence that could be presented in court includes police reports, witness statements, phone logs, emails, texts, and other forms of communication that are documented.
Additionally, the court may rely on experts to find out if a parent is unfit for custody. These experts will conduct assessments and factor in each parent’s employment status, education, relationship with the child, living conditions, and parenting styles. If CPS ever came to your home, the expert will look into the report that was taken and do further investigation.
What to Do If Your Co-Parent is Unfit
If you believe your co-parent is unfit, then it’s crucial to collect as much evidence as possible before any custody hearings. Do not communicate with them by calling them or talking with them on the phone or in-person; it’s best to document any communication through text messages or emails.
Of course, if they do anything illegal, you need to call the police right away. Get a restraining order if it’s necessary. Showing that you’ve been in communication with the police and are taking the right steps is going to help prove that the other parent is unfit.
You can also ask family members and friends who know both of you if they’d be willing to testify on your behalf.
If your co-parent has abused your child, then your child might have to make a statement. It is best to ask a child therapist how to handle the situation. You don’t want to accidentally scare your child or cause them any emotional harm. Together with a therapist, you can figure out the best way to communicate with your child about what’s going on.
Does an Unfit Parent Have Any Rights?
The judge will always do what’s in the best interests of the child, even if it means that the child doesn’t get to see one of their parents. If a parent has physically abused you, your child, or anyone else in your home, you will very likely get full custody. However, every case is different, and you’ll need to discuss this issue with your family law attorney.
If there was no abuse involved, but a parent lives in an unsafe place or is struggling with addiction, the judge may come up with a plan where you can improve your life and share custody of your child. In the immediate future, you may be able to have supervised visits with your child.
The bottom line is that everybody makes mistakes, and the courts know that. It may be difficult for you not to see your child right now – or see them as much as you want – but there is a path to change that.
Retaining a Family Law Attorney
By hiring a family law attorney, you can get the representation you need at a time when it matters the most. Look for an attorney with ample years of experience and the case results to back it up. You can call Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC for assistance at this time.
Contact Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC
If you need help with child custody or child support issues, you can reach out to Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC for help. We’ll work hard on your child custody case and be your source of support in your time of need. Make sure you get in touch online or by calling us at (713) 333-4430. We look forward to hearing from you.
Attorney Kevin Hunter at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC has experience with child custody, spousal support, high conflict divorce, and is fully equipped to guide you through the process.