Sometimes a parent isn’t very good at being a parent. In these situations, a child’s other parent, family member or third party might try to step in and get custody of the child. A parent who is not good at being a parent or does not care or want to be a parent is referred to as an unfit parent, which is a designation that is adjudicated by the South Carolina courts. When making a determination as to whether a parent is unfit for child custody purposes, the court will consider a number of factors and what is in the best interest of the child.
Factors In Proving A Parent Is Unfit
Some of the factors involved in defining a parent as unfit include:
- Whether the parent has a history of domestic violence toward the child, the child’s siblings, or the child’s other parent
- Whether the parent has a history of neglect towards the child
- Whether the parent has a history of psychological or emotional abuse of the child
- Whether the parent has a history of being overly strict or using extreme methods of discipline on the child
- Whether the parent has a drug or alcohol problem
- Whether the parent has a criminal history involving a sexual offense
- Other considerations as appropriate
Parental Unfitness & Child Custody
In South Carolina, the court prefers that a child have at least some access to both parents, and this is true even when a parent is considered unfit for custody purposes. While the court may find a parent unfit for custody, the court often believes that it is in the best interest of the child to at least have some visitation time with the unfit parent. The purpose of visitation is two-fold: the child gets to spend time with their parent, and hopefully spending time with their child will encourage and motivate the parent to change their behavior in order to become a fit parent for custody purposes.
But that is not to say that all situations where a parent is deemed unfit for custody will lead to an award of visitation rights. There are many circumstances where it would not be in the best interest of the child for the court to permit visitation with the unfit parent, even if the visitations were supervised.
Unfit Parents & Termination of Parental Rights
It is not uncommon for child custody and adoption cases to be centered on whether a parent is deemed unfit. Parental rights can be terminated depending on the finding. Once the unfit parent’s parental rights are terminated, another adult will need to step into the role of a legal parent or guardian for the child.
Contact An Experienced Family Law Attorney
Parental rights termination, child custody and adoption are all emotionally charged family law situations. So much is at stake in these cases. An experienced family law attorney can help ensure that you do not take a misstep in your case. For assistance with your case, don’t hesitate to contact the family law attorneys at McCoy & Stokes, LLC.