If you have tried co-parenting with your child’s other parent and experienced problem after problem, you may have wondered if it were possible to declare the other parent unfit in order to make your life easier and involve less drama in your child’s life.
While it may indeed be possible, it will not necessarily be easy or even the right thing to do. But if your child is at risk of being hurt when they are with their other parent, that is completely different. We’ll examine some of the situations that you might face, how the Ohio family law courts may view them and the options that you have.
What an unfit parent is not
Before we address what might make a parent unfit, we should dispense with some of the common misconceptions of what an unfit parent is not.
Someone is not unfit if they:
- Allow their kids to stay up later than most children
- Feed their kids fast food or prepared foods
- Allow young teens to watch R-rated movies
- Are lax about discipline
While it might annoy you as the child’s other parent if the kids return to you wired on sugar, needing a shower and having had very little sleep, in most cases those annoyances can be chalked up to different parenting styles rathe than the other parent being unfit.
Hallmarks of an unfit parent
While there is no universal definition, unfit parents typically fail to provide their children with proper supervision, support, care and guidance. Abusive parents who lash out at their children and injure them are unfit, as is a parent whose substance abuse problems override their ability to monitor their children when they are drinking or using drugs.
While a mental illness diagnosis alone is insufficient to declare a parent as unfit, some of the symptoms, e.g., paranoia, may render the parent as unfit. Sometimes, sadly, the treatment for the mental illness might include a pharmaceutical regime that incapacitates the parent to the point they become unfit to safely parent their offspring.
Allowing a partner who is a sex offender or who has been convicted of domestic violence to be around the child could be evidence that the parent is unfit. Any instances of desertion, abandonment or neglect of the child constitutes unfitness on the part of their other parent.
Best interests of the child foremost
All actions and decisions made by the parents should have the children’s best interests as the priority. With that in mind, a parent can avoid any mistakes that could cast them in a bad light to the Ohio family law courts.
If you truly believe that your son or daughter is endangered by their other parent, speak to your family law attorney to learn how to proceed.