Can a parent be declared unfit for custody?

Divorce comes with several changes and difficult decisions. One of these is the decision regarding the child’s post-divorce custody and living arrangements. 

In most cases, the family court prefers that both parents be actively involved in the day-to-day affairs of the child through a joint custody arrangement. When parents set aside their differences and focus on developing a parenting plan that works for everyone, the entire family is generally happy. But what happens when your ex is unfit for custody?

What does it means to be an unfit parent?

A parent does not need to be perfect to be involved in their child’s upbringing. In fact, the court will penalise you for your imperfections. That said, the judge applies the best interests of the child doctrine to resolve custody cases. 

If a parent’s past or current conduct endangers the child’s wellbeing (physical, emotional and psychological), the court may declare that parent unfit. This means that the parent in question is incapable of caring for the child. 

How does the court determine if a parent is unfit?

In deciding a parent’s fitness for custody (or the lack of it), the court will often consider the following factors:

  • The child’s health, safety and welfare
  • A history of abuse or violence against the child or the other parent
  • A history of drug and substance abuse
  • A history of run-ins with the law (especially if those offences involved domestic violence, drug and human trafficking and sexual offences)

While the Connecticut family code requires the judge to consider these factors, they may also consider all relevant factors when making a ruling. 

In the best interests of the child

Child custody can be a very emotional subject during a divorce. However, one of the most important things to keep in mind during a custody hearing is that the court has a duty to rule in the best interests of the child. Learning more about Connecticut child custody laws can help you reach a custody settlement that addresses the best interests of your child.