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How to Determine Someone is an Unfit Parent in Divorce

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How to Determine Someone is an Unfit Parent in Divorce

How to Determine Someone is an Unfit Parent in Divorce

Child custody is often a highly contested issue in Illinois divorce cases. It is not uncommon for one party to accuse the other of being an “unfit parent” and vice versa. Of course, making such allegations is not the same thing as proving it in court. With that in mind, here is a brief overview of some of the factors that an Illinois judge might consider when determining whether or not a parent is “unfit” in the eyes of the law.

Five Questions an Illinois Judge May Ask About a Parent’s Fitness

In any legal dispute over child custody, the court’s paramount goal is deciding what will be in the “best interest of the child.” There is no simple or magic formula for determining best interests. A judge must look at all relevant factors regarding a child’s living situation, including an assessment of the relative fitness–or unfitness–of each parent.

Here are a few things that a judge might take into account:

  • Is there any history of domestic violence or child abuse? Perhaps the most obvious red flag for an unfit parent is a pattern of engaging in violent or abusive behavior within the home. Even abuse directed by one parent against the other is an issue when it comes to child custody. Judges do not consider it acceptable for a child to even be a witness to such abuse.
  • Does either parent have a history of psychiatric illness? Many parents deal with mental health problems. And the mere fact a parent has a mental or psychiatric illness does not mean they are unfit parents. But a court will look into whether a parent’s illness or mental condition poses a potential risk to the child.
  • Is the parent actively involved in caring for the child? While Illinois law does not presume that a stay-at-home parent should automatically receive custody over a parent who works outside the home, a court will still consider the extent to which each parent is actively involved in caring for the child. If one parent exclusively relies on the other parent to provide childcare, that can be an issue for the court.
  • Does the parent set age-appropriate limits for the child? While parents can disagree over what is appropriate for a child given their age if one parent takes an extreme position–such as allowing their teenager to stay out all night without a curfew–that can raise concerns with the court over that parent’s fitness.
  • Does the parent respond to the child’s needs? At the end of the day, a child thrives when they are felt heard and loved by a parent. This can be difficult during a divorce. But a court will take into account whether a parent is making an honest effort to understand and listen to their child’s needs.

Contact the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC Today

Deciding on matters affecting child custody can be an emotionally fraught time for your entire family. That is why it is important to work with a skilled, compassionate Rolling Meadows, Illinois, child custody attorney who can guide you through this process. Contact SAM LAW OFFICE LLC today to schedule a consultation with a member of our staff.

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