In any state, a child’s best interest always comes first during divorce and custody battles. Most often, a child’s best interest means both parents are involved in their lives with dual custody. Full custody will be given to one parent if the other proves to be unfit and their presence in the child’s life isn’t in their best interest. When an individual is considered unfit, they can lose their custodial and visitation rights. So what makes a parent unfit parent in the state of Texas?
How a Texas Court Determines a Parent Unfit
Determining if a parent is considered unfit is somewhat open to the interpretation of the judge handling the custody case. However, the Texas Family Code general guidelines state a parent is deemed unfit to raise a child if doing so would significantly affect the child’s physical or emotional health and development. It’s the judge’s job to determine which act or acts would significantly affect the child if the accused parent was to have custody rights.
The judge will need proof of negligent acts, such as a history of drugs or alcohol, sexual offenses, emotional abuse, unfit living conditions, unstable environments and more. A history of family violence, however, is intolerable and almost always deems a parent unfit. Most of these determinations are on a case-by-case basis, meaning each case is different and a decision cannot be made without investigation or evidence.
Presenting Evidence That a Parent is Unfit
In order to prove that a parent is unfit or to prove innocence, the evidence must be presented in court. Gather police reports, phone logs, text messages, emails, witness statements and anything else that will assist your side of the case. However, if you’re deemed an unfit parent, Texas doesn’t automatically take away all of your parental rights. Since these cases are situational, the judge can determine your parental rights or lack thereof based on the severity of the case. People make mistakes – and, because the child’s best interest usually involves a relationship with both of their parents, there are ways you can redeem yourself.
You can start by maintaining a steady job to show you are responsible and financially stable enough to support your child. Take the time to spend meaningful time with your child, which will prove you are willing and able to provide the love and support a child needs while growing up. Witness statements can also act as positive character references. Surround yourself with good people, and let them tell the judge the kind of person you are and why you should have co-custody of your child.
Going to court is never easy. However, hiring a lawyer will help you stay organized and ensure you’re presenting the best case possible. With your child’s future life at the forefront of a custody battle, let the professionals help you. At Bineham and Gillen, your child’s best interest is always our best interest. Contact us if you’re in the middle of a divorce or a custody battle and have any questions or are in need of representation.