Proving a parent unfit in a Virginia child custody case

As in most states, Virginia judges typically believe that children fare best in divorce when they can spend time with both of their parents. If you're preparing to fight for sole custody of your children because you believe your ex's presence is a detriment to their well-being, you may have your work cut out for you in court.

It's not easy to convince the court that a parent is unfit. The court must carefully investigate such accusations to make sure that the children's best interests remain the central focus of all proceedings. No judge wants to deny children access to one of their parents if the allegations against him or her prove false. Therefore, if you plan to claim that your ex is unfit, you'll need to support your claim with evidence.

Issues that raise the court's concern

The court is looking for strong evidence and hard facts to determine whether a parent is unfit. The following list shows issues that often determine fitness in a parent:

  • A parent must be able to fulfill a child's needs for food, clothing and shelter.
  • A parent must be of sound mind to make decisions on behalf of a minor child and to guide him or her to adulthood.
  • Parents must be able to financially support their children. This doesn't necessarily mean financial crises will never occur, but instead that parents have a means of fulfilling financial needs.
  • A fit parent maintains a safe and healthy environment for his or her children.
  • Parents place their children's needs ahead of their own.

If you believe your ex is exposing your children to unsafe situations or people, it's definitely cause for concern. Do you have evidence that he or she has a substance abuse problem? The court will want to investigate. If you can prove that your ex is physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive to your children, it would undoubtedly be an issue that would prompt a judge to rule him or her unfit for custody, and perhaps even for visitation.

Stating your case in court

It can be quite stressful to have to explain to a judge why you believe you should have sole custody of your children. This is why many Virginia parents in similar situations have asked experienced family law attorneys to advocate on their behalf rather than go it alone in court.

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