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How Do You Prove a Parent Unfit in Missouri?

How Do You Prove a Parent Unfit in Missouri?A parent’s capability to sufficiently care for the child may be challenged in a custody dispute. When making a custody order, a court will try to lay the groundwork that is in the child’s best interests. 

However, if the custodial parent poses a danger to the child, or is proved to be unfit in providing the child proper care, the court can take away the child from that parent’s custody.

When a parent is found to be unfit, a change can be obtained in the custody order that reduces or restricts the interaction between that parent and the child. 

Modification of Custody

In some instances, a change in circumstances may require a modification of the original custody agreement. This doesn’t always mean that a parent is unfit. But it is important to note that custody agreements can be adjusted for a number of reasons, including: 

  • A parent’s mental health 
  • A parent’s moral fitness 
  • A change in living conditions 
  • Child grows older and needs less parenting 
  • A child requires a change in caretaking 
  • Allegations of abuse or neglect 
  • A child prefers to live with a certain parent 

Consult with a MO divorce attorney to learn more about filing a motion to modify and to learn more about other steps in the process of proving a parent is unfit. 

Proving a Parent is Unfit

The following are some signs that a parent may be deemed unfit. Unfortunately, these points can be difficult to prove at times, which is why it’s important to have a trusted divorce lawyer on your side.   

Exposing the Child to Dangerous Situations or Neglect  

It is not in the child’s best interest if the parent exposes the child to dangerous situations, or are themselves a danger to the child. 

Does the parent see to it that the child is properly fed, clothed, and educated? Harsh discipline, drug or alcohol abuse, storing of firearms, and past criminal offenses are examples of dangerous situations that may warrant a change in custody. 

Exposing the Child to Domestic Violence

A spouse can be physically or emotionally abusive to the other. If this is their environment at home, a child should not be allowed to witness such acts of domestic violence.

Parental Substance Use / Abuse 

A change in custody orders requires evidence that a parent’s substance abuse is affecting the child. Even the use of a legal substance such as marijuana can be restricted by the court to ensure the child’s safety.

A Parent Suffers from Mental Health Issues

A parent suffering from a psychiatric illness can put the welfare of the child at risk. If a parent is actively receiving psychiatric treatment and medication, it can be a benefit for the child and everyone else. Still, the child can be in a dangerous situation if the mental health issues go untreated.

A Parent Neglects the Child’s Social Needs

One parent can have certain social issues that may affect the child in a bad way. These can include refusing to socialize with neighbors and locking themselves indoors all the time. A child must share social activities with both parents as they contribute to stronger relationships and cheerful memories.

A Child Seems Afraid of a Parent

Is the child afraid or comfortable with the parent? How a child feels toward a parent says a lot about how to fit a parent is in providing care for their child.  

Proving a Parent is Unfit: Gathering Evidence 

Proving a parent is unfit can be challenging, and allegations aren’t typically enough. On occasion, an angry parent may even bend the truth to prevent the other from having custody. 

Custody battles can be extremely challenging and emotional for these reasons — after all, even a parent who struggles with caretaking likely still loves the child and won’t want to give up custody. 

But the good news is that technology makes it much easier than it ever has been in the past. 

Here are some ways to produce evidence to prove that a parent is unfit:

  • Videos, audio recordings, and photographs that show verbal abuse, or injuries resulting from physical abuse
  • Medical treatment records relating to the child’s injuries
  • Messages, emails, and/or voicemails from the parent
  • Witness testimony 

The petition in court must be clear about the reasons and have evidence to support those, so any documentation or records that you can come up with is important.  

A Divorce Lawyer Can Help You Put the Pieces Together 

If you’re struggling with a child custody dispute and the moral fitness of you or your spouse is being called into question, contact a St.Charles divorce attorney right away. 

Let our experienced lawyers at Shea Kohl Law help you with your custody issues, and other concerns you’re facing as a result of divorce.

We can defend you against false accusations of abuse, character defamation, or other devious manipulation used by your ex to make you appear as an unfit parent. 

Call our office today at (636) 946-9999 or contact us online for a confidential consultation.

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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.