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What makes a parent unfit for custody?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2019 | Child Custody, Firm News |

When parents in Georgia decide that it is time to get a divorce, there are many parts of the process that can be contentious. For example, you will have to determine what you want your child custody situation to look like. In some cases, one parent may consider the other to be unfit to hold custody. But what does this mean? 

What is an unfit parent? 

When looking at the definition of an unfit parent, it becomes obvious that there is no universal definition for the term. However, there is a legal meaning, even though it can differ depending on circumstances and jurisdictions. Some states have an entire list of grounds of parental unfitness, such as desertion or abandonment of the child or extreme cruelty to the child. Other states define unfit parents as simply any parent who fails to provide her or his child with proper guidance, care and support due to a parental fault. 

In Georgia, parents become unfit if they mistreat or abandon a child or fail to provide their child with the “necessities of life”. These include food, water, clothing, shelter and so on. 

How is this determined? 

The definition of an unfit parent is important in divorce cases because it can determine the outcome of child custody. While the term is sometimes thrown around out of anger between parents in the midst of heated arguments, there are many instances in which these accusations are genuine. Examples not only include instances of child abuse, but can also involve neglect or dangerous behavior on the part of the parent, such as leaving a child unattended of coming to a custody meeting under the influence. 

If parents believe that their ex-spouse is unfit to parent, they may take this claim to the court. From there, the judge will examine the details and make a decision that both parents must legally follow.