For an individual in family court, it can be overwhelming to try to save a child from a neglectful parent and unsafe living environment. Here’s how to prove a parent unfit in California.

California law defines an unfit parent as an individual who fails to provide necessary care to their child and is unable to support their well-being. This is a very vague definition and thus, difficult to prove true in court. However, the California family court has several factors it considers to ultimately decide that a parent is unfit to maintain custody of their child.

Factors that Can Prove that a Parent is Unfit

California Family Code 3030 defines the restrictions that can prevent an individual from obtaining or sustaining custody of their child. Here are the guidelines set by the family code, as well as other factors California family court considers, to decide where an individual is unfit to have custody of a child.

  • The potential parent is a registered sex offender.
  • The potential parent has been convicted of rape.
  • The potential parent has been convicted of abuse.
  • The potential parent has been convicted of child neglect.
  • The potential parent has a history of substance abuse.
  • The potential parent has been diagnosed with a mental illness.
  • The potential parent has been incarcerated.
  • The potential parent’s child custody evaluation’s results.
  • The potential parent has a felony on their record, or the potential parent resides with another individual who has a felony on their record.
  • The potential parent has demonstrated to expose the child to emotionally or psychologically damaging situations.
  • The potential parent demonstrates in any way they cannot provide adequate care to the child and fails to protect their wellbeing and safety.

Related: Factors that Determine Child Custody in California

What Is a Child Custody Evaluation?

California Evidence Code Section 730 allows the court to order an examination of the parents in a custody case. The family court will often use a child custody evaluation to help determine if a parent is unfit to maintain custody of their child. It also helps the court in deciding whether one or both parents should be granted custody of the child. Additionally, a child custody evaluation can be requested by either parent at any point in the child custody proceeding. Here is everything a parent needs to know about a child custody evaluation.

The individual who will be performing the child custody violation will be a mental health professional. Their main goal is to collect evidence and make a decision on behalf of the best interest of the child. Here are some actions that will be taken during the child custody evaluation.

  1. Multiple interviews with each parent, separately
  2. Multiple interviews with the child
  3. Observations of each parent interacting with the child
  4. Interview(s) with others involved with the family and the child such as teachers, health care providers, and any other relevant individuals in the case
  5. Psychological testing on anyone in the family
  6. Review court and legal activity regarding the custody case and the divorce (if applicable)

However, the results of the custody evidence are not immediately submitted as evidence in the child custody case. Only if both parties agree to accept the results of the child custody evaluation can it be submitted as evidence to the court.

Furthermore, either parent is allowed to disagree and challenge the results. If a parent disagrees with the results of the child custody evaluation, they are allowed to consult another mental health professional for their second opinion on the results, and then have them testify in their favor in court. The judge will always inspect the evaluation to ensure that it was conducted fairly, and whether if it is relevant enough to the court as evidence.

Ultimately, the child custody evaluation is only one of many factors are considering when trying to decide if a parent is unfit to maintain custody of a child. However, every parent can prepare for a child custody evaluation with some tips, if they feel it is necessary to do so.

Related: 730 Child Custody Evaluation in California

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If you have any more questions on how to prove a parent unfit in California, contact us. We are committed to helping you fight for your child’s best interest. Schedule your free consultation with one of our Child Custody attorneys today!