Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Pennsylvania Child Custody Topic of the Week: Unfit Parents

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Are you concerned that your ex-spouse or parent of your child is not a fit parent? Do you want to know what to do in order to protect your child's safety and well-being? If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do during your Pennsylvania child custody case in order for a Pittsburgh child custody judge to determine that a parent is unfit and award him or her no unsupervised visitation.

First and foremost, you need to have valid reasons for your belief that the parent is not fit to have custody. You can't just say that the parent is unfit because you are angry at them and don't want them to have contact with your child. Your reasoning needs to be logical and you need to be able to prove it. Making sure you get the facts straight is critical to presenting a compelling case that a parent is not fit to have custody of his or her child. The main goal, and the thing that will convince a judge that a parent is not fit, is to prove that the parent is either neglecting or abusing the child physically or emotionally.

Do your homework on the parent. Even if you were married to someone for ten years, there may be many things about them and their past that you are unaware of. Any past mistakes and indiscretions may have a bearing on how a court views a parent. Research everything you can about the parent you are trying to prove is unfit. Any records proving drug use, criminal charges, or anything similar will be strong evidence to show that the parent is not fit to have custody of the child.

Ask for evaluations. It is common in child custody cases for pyschological evaluations to be conducted in order to determine the mental state of the parent. If you are trying to prove that a parent is unfit, it is critical that you request that the parent be evaluated by a psychologist. The opinion expressed by the psychologist will be respected by the Pittsburgh child custody judge and taken into consideration when the judge is making his final decision about custody.

Prove impact on the child. It may not always be allowed, but it is worth a shot to ask the judge if he or she will allow a psychological evaluation of the child to be done. Evidence of emotional abuse will be evident to a professional evaluating the child, so this will be an indication of a parent being unfit. School records and medical records may also be indicators of abuse, so these should also be obtained when relevant to the case.

Keep in mind, however, that any evidence you present during your PA child custody case needs to be compelling. The law is intended to protect the best interest of the child, and the law believes that it is in a child's best interest to have contact with both parents, so a judge will not label a parent unfit unless it is proven that he or she really is not fit. The first step in your child custody case should be to consult with a Pittsburgh child custody lawyer, like our Western PA child custody attorneys at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates.

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