Fighting for custody of your child can be among the most painful, upsetting experiences you go through as a parent. This can be especially true if there are certain attributes or events that put you in an unfavorable light.
Of course, we all make mistakes and have personal flaws. In most cases, these faults won't threaten your rights as a parent. However, there are traits and actions that the courts might consider signs that a parent is unfit or uninterested, which can lead to loss of custody or termination of parental rights. We examine some of these situations below.
- History of abuse or violence: If you have a conviction for domestic violence or sexual assault, then the courts may consider you a threat to your child's safety. Allegations of physical, financial or emotional abuse can also put parental rights at risk.
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol: Substance abuse is a serious problem with which many parents struggle. However, if you are not addressing addiction issues, then the courts can find you unfit to care for your child.
- Abandonment or neglect: Even if you are dedicated to playing a role in your child's life now, a history of neglect or abandonment can stand between you and the life you want with your child.
- Evidence of impulse control problems or mental disorders: Parents who lash out in anger, disobey court orders or suffer from untreated psychological or emotional conditions may be seen as reckless, out of control and a potential danger to children.
No parent is perfect, and New Jersey courts do not expect parents to be perfect. However, when a parent is dealing with issues that threaten the safety and well-being of a child, then the courts may decide that physical and/or legal custody is not appropriate.
If you have concerns about your fitness as a parent or questions about how to address parental shortcomings to gain or regain custody, then you would be wise to consult an attorney. With legal guidance, you can protect your rights as a parent and work to secure the custody arrangement you seek.