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How do the courts determine an unfit parent?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2022 | Blog, Child Custody

After a divorce, you and your former spouse have an obligation to your children. Unfortunately, in some instances, one spouse may not fulfill his or her obligations. If you worry that your child’s other parent cannot care for your child, you can work through the courts to determine if your ex is unfit.

According to the Michigan Legislature, there are various reasons that a person may lose his or her parental rights.

What constitutes an unfit parent?

When family courts determine an unfit parent, they have to consider various factors. Restricting a parent’s rights is serious and the courts must serve the child’s best interests. If your ex refuses to provide financially for the child but has enough income to do so, he or she could lose rights. Mental illness that impairs a person’s ability to care for children can also lead to termination of rights. Other determinations of unfitness include:

  • Incarceration
  • Child abuse
  • Domestic violence

Unfit parents may lose the right to decide on their child’s behalf.

What happens after a petition to terminate parental rights?

If there is a petition to terminate your ex-spouse’s parental rights, the court might suspend your ex’s parenting time temporarily. The court will investigate whether there are grounds for termination or if termination stands in the best interests of your children. Depending on the situation, the court may focus on reunification or order no reunification efforts.

The court offers an opinion about parental rights within 70 days of the initial petition. The court may terminate all parental rights or only some of the rights.

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