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How Do Texas Courts Determine if a Parent is Unfit for Custody?


The battle of child custody is one of the most painful experiences that parents face in Texas courts, and it can get ugly sometimes. A parent can express resentment and may not want the other parent to have access to the child, but in some cases, the fight is justifiable.

Both parents want to have custody, but one may feel like the other is unfit and cannot be trusted with the kids for various reasons. The court desires that the final ruling favors the parent who has the best interest of the child. It finds all ways possible to ensure that the child does not get exposure to an unfit parent.

However, in situations where one parent gets emotional during the divorce process and accuses the other with unfounded claims of unfitness or abuse, the accused party needs to seek legal help to fight for their custody rights. One can only get custody if they have enough proof that the other party does not have the child's best interest. Below are ways in which Texas courts determine the unfit parent for custody.

What the Texas Family Court Needs as Proof of an Unfit Parent

The court requires adequate evidence before making the final decision. However, it does not turn off the parental right of the unfit parent after making the ruling. Below is what the court needs to consider whether a parent is unfit for child custody.

1. Evidence

The ruling is made once there is enough evidence to show that the other is unfit for custody. If the evidence shows any form of abuse, whether verbal, physical, or criminal history, the other parent may not be awarded custody

Some examples of evidence that a parent can produce and use as evidence are:

  • Photos,
  • Audio recordings,
  • Home history videos

The court may consider the following elements as proof of a parent unfit for custody:

  • Drug and/or alcohol addiction - If a parent gathers evidence to show the court that the other party has an addiction to drugs and alcohol or other harmful elements, it may render unfit for custody. For instance, the party can show arrest records such as DWI and DUI.
  • Family violence - The court can rule out an unfit parent due to their violent nature. The other party will need to produce evidence showing acts of violence in the home from the co-parent. The court may also request medical records, emails, phone logs, text messages, witness statements, and police reports.

2. A Child Social Study

The court will request social research to determine which parent is not fit for the custody. In some cases where the court has not ordered the social study, the attorney will request it from both parents. Experienced officials conduct the studies.

The report shows:

  1. The relationship the parents had
  2. Parenting styles
  3. Employment status
  4. Living conditions
  5. Educational background
  6. Regular interaction with kids
  7. The parents' scheduling availability

Examples of unfit living conditions include:

  • Abuse - This can come in many forms including physical, emotional, and sexual. Physical abuse entails hitting, kicking, throwing, etc. Emotional abuse involves harming the emotional well-being of the child through shame, theatening, etc. Sexual abuse comes with serious penalties and entails having sexual contact with your child.
  • Neglect - This occurs when the parent refuses to perform a duty when a duty is owed to the child. There are four types of neglect: 1) physical, 2) medical, 3) educational, 4) emotional.
  • CPS - If there have been previous reports of CPS involvement, then your social study may be extended to investigate this further. CPS issues are taken very seriously, so it's critical to receive the help of an attorney during this time.

How a Texas Court Decides Whether a Parent is Unfit

During the hearing, the court weighs all proof provided before making the final ruling. It determines parental rights according to the weight of the case. It will also rule out if giving custody to a parent will physically or emotionally affect the child's life.

When found guilty, the parent may be denied custody, although that does not take away parental rights. It may also order for the child's supervision while in the presence of the accused parent and ensure that the child is safe.

Contact a Family Lawyer for Legal Help

Child custody situations can be challenging when allegations of unfit parenting are involved. If you have found yourself in this situation, it is essential to seek legal services from Parchman Law Group. Our Woodlands family lawyer will help gather proof of your skills at being fit for custody and present your case to the Texas courts in a manner that protects your rights.

Call our team today at } to discuss your child custody case.