It’s normal to have concerns about your child’s co-parent. From entertainment choices to nutrition, people can have vastly different philosophies about how to raise their children.
In these situations, you have little recourse to force another parent into your way of thinking. Generally, the state believes that whoever possesses the children has full parental rights.
This is not true, however, when a co-parent directly endangers their children. The law classifies them as “unfit” parents. These are people who abuse their children, or maybe they’ve developed a chemical dependency that is harming the kids.
How to Challenge an Unfit Parent’s Rights
The court represents the state, and the state has the authority to remove a parent’s rights when necessary. Therefore, you must appeal to the court when a co-parent is unfit.
Approach this step as if you were going to trial. You are making a claim, and you must prove that claim. This means you need evidence. Collect any documentation you have regarding the other parent’s behavior. You may have text conversations, photographic evidence, or, in the case of abuse, medical records. There may even be witnesses that can back up your allegations.
As they would in a courtroom trial, the co-parent will have the opportunity to counter your claims. They may have their own evidence and witnesses. Therefore, you must work closely with your attorney to build a strong case and convince the court that your accusations are true.
Second Changes for Unfit Parents
Generally, the state wants parents and kids to remain together. Certainly, some parents don’t care and refuse to change their ways. However, some unfit parents truly want to do better.
If the state believes that a parent can and will reform, it can create a safety plan. Child Welfare Services will review the situation and tailor the plan to meet that person’s needs. While working on the plan, the unfit parent normally loses custody, or they are allowed only supervised visits. This will not change until they can prove they’ve successfully followed the plan.
You should not fear this situation. The co-parent is under strict scrutiny during this time. If they fail, they cannot get the kids back, and they might lose their parental rights altogether. If they succeed, this is a better situation for everyone. The kids can have another loving, safe parent in their lives. The co-parent can face the reality of losing their kids, and this can motivate them continue to improve. Finally, you can feel safe leaving the kids with their other parent.
Fixing Minor Co-Parenting Problems
Perhaps the kids are not directly in danger, but you do have concerns about their co-parent. As we mentioned above, perhaps the other parent allows the kids to watch certain movies or play games that bother you. Maybe they don’t follow as strict of a diet with the kids, and you’re concerned about the children’s health.
In these scenarios, you always have the option to modify your parenting plan. You can renegotiate the terms with the other parent, and you can include anything that’s important to you. If you don’t want the kids watching R-rated movies, for example, you can add this to the plan. Once the court approves it, any changes and additions become official, and the other parent can suffer consequences for breaking the plan.
It’s unlikely that you can take such matters back to court, but you can discuss them through mediation. Even if you make these changes without legal guidance, you should take them to an attorney before submitting them. Your lawyer can make sure your plan is legally sound, and they can help you fix any errors before it goes forward.
If you believe your child’s co-parent is unfit, our firm can help. For a free consultation, schedule time with us online, or call us now at (916) 299-3936.