Child custody legal proceedings can be quite complex. Consider that co-parents, mediators, arbitrators, and/or judges must all consider the unique family situation and determine what is best for the child. Whether through a larger divorce process or as an independent dispute, child custody hearings are extremely important to New Jersey parents. In some cases, one or more individuals may be considered an “unfit” parent. This is a non-issue in the majority of cases, but it has the potential to have a huge impact on eventual child custody agreements if either parent is considered to be unfit.
Our divorce and family law attorneys will define unfit parent with New Jersey laws, discuss how an unfit parent determination may impact child custody agreements, and go over some options for parents.
What is an “Unfit Parent”? Teaneck, NJ Child Custody Attorneys
The legal definition of an “unfit parent” in New Jersey is a parent or caretaker who is unable to provide a safe, secure, nurturing home for their child. Furthermore, the inability to provide a secure environment may put the child at risk of suffering emotional, psychological, or physical harm. Your Teaneck, NJ child custody attorneys will likely advise that this definition is nebulous at best, and that each case will be considered based on it’s unique circumstances.
Potential grounds for finding a parent to be unfit may include:
- Mental health issues or mental illness of a parent
- A history of dangerous actions, violent behavior, or criminal activities including but not limited to acts of domestic violence
- Problems with substance abuse and/or addiction
- Previous child neglect, child endangerment, etc.
The burden of proof lays with the party attempting to prove that a parent is unfit. It is vital to understand your legal rights whether you believe your co-parent may be an unfit parent or you yourself are being accused of being unfit. There is no one-size-fits all solution. By working with a qualified Teaneck child custody attorney, you will be giving yourself and your family the best chance at an amicable and beneficial resolution.
Unfit Parents Within Bergen County Child Custody Disputes
Let’s say the courts have determined that one co-parent is unfit. What now? It is quite likely that there will be a material impact on your child custody agreement in two areas:
Physical (Residential) Child Custody – the traditional form of custody, namely the one which determines where a child will live and spend his or her time is known as physical custody. Commonly, unfit parents will be granted reduced or even no parenting time. However, this is not always the case. There are many ways in which co-parents can allow their child to safely spend time with each parent including supervised visitation, parenting time, or even digital visitation.
Legal Child Custody – the right of parents to be involved in major decisions within a child’s life is known as legal child custody. Unfit parents generally are not granted legal child custody in New Jersey. Again, this is not a guarantee. If you believe you are not being given your full parental rights, please contact a Bergen County child custody attorney to help secure your future.
Contact our Hackensack Child Custody Agreement Lawyers Today
The child custody agreement lawyers of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark understand that legal disputes over the fitness of parents can cause fuses to shorten, tempers to flare, and emotions to run high. That is why we are proud to offer full service legal solutions which address not only the legal, but also the personal aspects of family law. Our firm has extensive experience serving families from local Bergen County communities including Hackensack, Ridgewood, Teaneck, Paramus, Fort Lee, and all of Northern New Jersey. When it comes to something as serious as the custody of your child, do not fight this legal battle alone.
For a free and confidential consultation regarding your child custody dispute and/or issues of an unfit parent, please contact us online or through our Hackensack, NJ offices by calling (201) 397-1750 today.