When it comes to custody, proving a mother unfit can be difficult. Every state has different laws when it comes to whether or not a parent is capable of raising a child. However, there are some universal guidelines all states use to determine the fitness of a mother. Ultimately, the decision will be left up to a judge. (Image Credit: Peoplecreation/Freepik)
Before you try to prove that your kid’s mother is unfit in court, read this article to make sure you’re prepared for what the process entails.
Declaring that a mother is unfit to raise her child is a strong statement. It is important to set aside your own relationship with the mother. Instead, look objectively at how she is with her children. Not only could the mother face criminal charges if you are alleging abuse, there’s also the possibility of the mother losing custody of her child.
Making false statements will not help you in court. As such, you want to be sure what you are telling the judge is factual. If the court determines that it is not, false allegations can backfire on you.
A judge will not simply take your word for the fact that a mother is unfit. You are going to need to provide evidence. The petition that is filed in court will detail why you believe someone is an unfit mother. If you have photos of bruises from alleged physical abuse or of a kitchen with no food for the child to eat, those could be used as evidence.
Witnesses who have seen the mother act inappropriately toward or with her children can also be called to testify. Before filing the petition, gather as much evidence as you can to show that the children are not safe with their mother.
Filing Motions and Serving the Mother
If this is for a change of custody, you will need to request that a judge change the custody order. Filing an incorrect form or not filing in a timely manner could have a negative impact on the case.
It will be up to you to legally serve the paperwork to the person you are claiming is unfit. It is possible you will have to pay a special process server to hand-deliver the motion to the defendant, or your state may require that a sheriff deliver it. These are issues that are best handled by an attorney.
The Court Hearing
A hearing will be scheduled for a judge to hear all of the evidence. Once you have made your case, the defendant will be permitted to present their claims using similar evidence. You may be required to hire independent experts who will evaluate the children prior to the hearing.
The judge may make a decision at the hearing, but it could be several days or weeks before they do so. It is possible you will receive the decision in the mail, depending on how the judge decides. Once the decision is made, you must abide by the ruling.
If the ruling sides with the mother and she is awarded custody or visitation, you must permit the children to live with her or attend any scheduled visitation. Failure to do so could put you in contempt of court. Of course, this also means that if the judge sides with you, the mother must abide by the decision as well.
In most cases, it is very difficult to prove that someone is unfit to raise their children. There are some instances when it may not be difficult, such as when the mother has substance abuse problems or you have evidence of other types of abuse.
Proving someone is an unfit mother requires specific paperwork and court filings. If you are in a custody battle with someone you believe is unfit, this is no time to try to represent your own interests in court. You need an attorney’s help to make sure everything is done correctly or you may lose your case.