How Will the Court Address Concerns that a Parent is Unfit?
If a parent (or other party to the custody case) raises concerns that one of the child’s parents is unfit, the Court may address those concerns in a variety of ways, depending on the type and severity of the alleged unfitness and any proof that the parent is unfit. In addition, the Court will evaluate any police or CYS involvement, and whether there is a PFA involved in the case.
There are many types of unfitness which may be alleged, including drug and alcohol abuse; inadequate or inappropriate living conditions; mental or emotional abuse; and mental health issues which impair a party’s judgment and ability to care for a child.
For example, if a parent is alleged to be unfit due to drug or alcohol abuse, and there is credible evidence which tends to support that allegation, the Court may require that that party undergo drug or alcohol testing or a drug or alcohol evaluation, and depending on the extent of the drug or alcohol abuse, the Court may curtail that party’s custody time with the child. The Court may also require that the parent undergo drug or alcohol treatment (including inpatient rehab or therapy) before the Court will increase that parent’s custodial time. If the party has been charged with or convicted of DUI or possession of drugs, especially if the charge or conviction is recent, that is another important consideration for the Court. If, on the other hand, there is no credible proof that a party has actually abused drugs or alcohol, and the Court does not find the testimony or allegations regarding the drug or alcohol abuse credible, the mere fact that a party alleges that there is an issue is not likely to factor into the Court’s decision regarding custody arrangements.
Unfortunately, parents involved in custody disputes frequently allege unfitness of the other parent, but such allegations are not always truthful. The Court has to balance keeping the child safe from any potential issues with evaluating the truthfulness and motivations of both parties, among other concerns.
If you are interested in discussing your unique custody situation with one of attorneys, contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation.