What Makes a Parent Unfit in California?

Former spouses say and think all kinds of terrible things about each other’s parenting choices during and after divorce. Even couples who are happily married frequently disagree about children’s diet, clothing, bedtime, and how closely to supervise them when they are playing or doing homework. People who are not divorced parents cannot know the pain that a parent feels when a child is upset because the other parent’s significant other scolded them, or the pain of seeing your ex-spouse belittle, guilt trip, or gaslight your children just like your ex used to do with you. 

Unless there is an obvious reason to think otherwise, California family courts follow the principle that the best thing for a child is to have a close and stable relationship with both parents. In other words, you have to do something really bad for the court to restrict your parenting time. If your ex is calling you an unfit parent in everyday conversation or in a court of law, contact a Whittier child custody lawyer.

Common Reasons That California Courts Declare Parents Unfit for Custody

The legal definition of an unfit parent is one who abuses or neglects the children or fails to provide appropriate care, guidance, or support. The court only declares a parent unfit and denies that parent the right to parenting time if things have gotten so bad that Child Welfare Services have gotten involved. If you have a parenting plan where you co-parent with your ex, the court might order you to have supervised parenting time if your substance abuse has caused you to create unsafe situations for your children.

These are some behaviors that California courts have considered unfit parenting:

  • Failure to set age-appropriate limits (for example, letting a kindergartener stay up until midnight and play M-rated video games)
  • Domestic violence directed at the children or in the presence of the children
  • Using illegal drugs while the children are present or leaving drugs where the children can find them

What to Do if Your Ex-Spouse Accuses You of Being an Unfit Parent

If your ex-spouse says that you are an unfit parent, remember that your ex has the burden of proof in trying to convince the court of this. Remarrying after divorce does not make you an unfit parent, and neither does being vegan, having tattoos or body piercings, being bisexual, belonging to a different political party than your ex, or being more religious than your ex. Despite this, family law courts frown on parents who badmouth their ex-spouses in front of their children, so you will have to put effort into not letting you see how much your ex’s accusations upset you.  Remember that most allegations of unfit parenting in divorce cases only end up making the judge think that the parent making the accusations is causing needless drama.

Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum About Surviving Your Ex-Spouse’s Attempts to Mess With Your Parenting Time

A family law attorney can help you if your ex-spouse is saying bad things about you in court in an effort to reduce your parenting time.  Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California, to set up a consultation.