If you are seeking full custody of your child, or if you wish to have your ex-spouse’s parental rights terminated, one of the grounds to do this is based on having the other parent declared “unfit”. The definition of an “unfit parent” varies from state to state, and in Colorado, there are several factors that are considered. Proving that your former spouse is an unfit parent takes more than just presenting evidence. Here is an overview.
Factors In Determining An Unfit Parent
In general, a parent may be considered unfit if they are not able to fulfill the child’s needs or have endangered the child’s physical or emotional well-being. Colorado family courts, however, have extremely high standards in declaring a parent unfit – they won’t make this judgment based on generalizations. Instead, the court will look at the specific circumstances of your case and examine factors such as:
- Serious bodily injury on the child
- Physical or sexual abuse towards the child
- The parent’s neglect of the child
- The parent’s history of violence or sexual assault, if any
- The parent’s excessive use of alcohol or other substances
- The parent’s involvement in the injury or death of another child, if any
- The parent’s involvement in previous cases of neglect or dependency, if any
- The termination of parental rights ordered in another state, if any
- The parent’s mental or emotional illness, if any.
How You Can Prove Your Ex Is An Unfit Parent
The court will carefully examine your claim that your former spouse is not fit to be a parent. You will need to present ample evidence of your claim. On top of this, the court will request a psychological evaluation of your ex-spouse and may also ask external caregivers to testify. To strengthen your case, here are some things you can do:
- Gather all documentation, even those that are not recent. This can include police reports, criminal history, medical records, drug tests, and any documentation of past allegations against your ex.
- Highlight specific incidents that affect your child. Perhaps there is a formal report of your ex-spouse driving while intoxicated with your child in the car. Or perhaps there are medical records showing that your child has sustained physical injuries from domestic violence. As much as possible, use documentation to build a complete account of such incidents.
- Present witnesses that directly support your claim. These may be persons who saw the harm or endangerment of your child, or professionals (like physicians and psychologists) who can provide expert testimony that backs your case.
- Hire a family law attorney, particularly one who has a successful track record in Colorado family courts.
If you are not sure on how to proceed in dealing with your child’s other parent, don’t hesitate to talk to us at Goldman Law. We’ll provide you with professional advice that is suited to your specific situation.