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What makes a parent unfit?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2020 | Child Custody |

In almost all cases, the state of Pennsylvania will allow individuals to parent without interference. This is because the state assumes that most parents are capable of maintaining certain parenting practices that allow them to raise their children without help. However, some people simply do not have the mental or physical capacity to raise their children on their own. The state considers these parents “unfit.”

Pennsylvania takes unfit parent allegations seriously, as an unfit parent determination can have significant legal consequences. Before you accuse your child’s other parent of being unfit, you should understand the factors the courts consider when determining the fitness of a parent.

Grounds for unfitness

According to FindLaw, there is no universal definition of an unfit parent. However, each state has guidelines that detail what makes a person fit to parent, as well as grounds for the revocation or termination of parental rights. Though those too vary, almost all states consider the following actions grounds for an unfit determination:

  • Child abandonment
  • Desertion of the child
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Extreme cruelty to the child
  • Depravity

In addition to the above, the state may revoke the parental rights of a person who fails to or is unable to maintain a reasonable degree of concern, interest or responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of the child.

Best interests standard

Ultimately, the courts will consider what is in the best interests of the child. This is the standard that all family courts use when making custody determinations, and so it will come into play in instances of unfit parent allegations. If a judge decides that a parent is unfit based on this standard, it has the legal duty to deny that parent custody or visitation rights.