Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Monday, November 19, 2018

How do I Prove My Ex is Unfit to Have Custody of Our Children?

In most cases, New York family court judges presume that an ongoing, close relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the child. The courts tend to favor joint custody arrangements that encourage parents to be an active participant in the upbringing of their child. However, sole custody may be awarded in cases in which a parent is proven to be unfit or joint custody would be harmful to the child.

If you believe sole custody is in the best interest of your child, you have the burden of proof to demonstrate why your ex-spouse is unfit. You should consult with a New York child custody lawyer to determine if you have valid grounds to declare your ex-spouse is an unfit parent.

Reasons Why a Parent May Be an Unfit Parent

Attacking several of the factors that a judge considers when determining the best interest of the child may help prove a parent is unfit to have custody of the child. Some of the factors that you might use to prove your ex-spouse is an unfit parent include:

  • Substance Abuse — If you have evidence of drug abuse or alcohol abuse, this evidence could be used to substantiate your claim that your ex-spouse is unfit.
  • Child Abuse or Neglect — Allegations of child abuse or neglect are not sufficient to prove fitness. You must have substantiated allegations (allegations you can prove) that your ex-spouse is guilty of child abuse or neglect. A child psychologist may be helpful in proving this allegation.
  • Domestic Violence — If your ex-spouse was convicted of domestic violence or is subject to an order of protection, this evidence could be very compelling when arguing fitness for custody.
  • Unsafe Home Environment — A parent must be able to provide a safe home for his or her children. However, remember that modest does not equal unsafe. An unsafe home environment might include infestation by insects or rodents, no heat, holes in the floor, insufficient plumbing, and other conditions that pose a hazard to the child’s health or safety.
  • Impairing Contact with Parent — If one parent is unreasonably or purposefully denying access to a child or attempting to damage the relationship between the child and the other parent, the court may view this as unfit.
  • Proper Supervision — If your ex-spouse routinely fails to supervise your child, the lack of supervision could go against him or her in a trial. Examples of failing to supervise a child include allowing a child to watch inappropriate movies or television shows (i.e. R-rated movies for a 4-year old); leaving a young child home alone; or, failing to set reasonable limits for the child.

There could be other factors that a judge may consider when determining the fitness of a parent. It is important to remember that mere allegations of unfitness are not enough to obtain sole custody. New York child custody attorneys can help you gather the evidence required for your case.

New York Child Custody Attorneys

If you believe your ex-spouse is an unfit parent, the first step is to meet with our New York child custody attorneys to discuss the steps involved in filing for sole custody and the evidence you will need to win. Contact Gassman Baiamonte Gruner, P.C. to talk with a New York child custody lawyer today about your situation.


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