Proving a Parent “Unfit” in New Jersey Divorce Law
How to Prove a Parent Unfit in a Divorce Case in New Jersey
Divorce is a tough decision to make and having children involved, the complexity becomes even harder to manage.
Divorce is no easy task. Even when separating spouses have an amicable relationship, emotional energies can reach explosive levels due to the many stresses that a divorce proceeding invokes. When children are involved, these conflicts between spouses can reach a whole new level. When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, and each is seeking sole or primary custody, their tactics for trying to prove that they are the right to fight for their children can include some downright nasty allegations against the other spouse.
In some cases, these allegations are simply the result of a battle for custody. In other cases, however, a spouse really is unfit to care for the children. If you’re trying to prove that it is not safe for your children to spend time with your ex, and they are unfit to care for your children and should have restricted visitation rights or none at all, contact our divorce and family law firm to learn how we can help protect your family.
What is the definition of an unfit parent in NJ?
According to New Jersey law, an unfit parent is someone who is unable to create a safe and nurturing environment for a child. This could look like a variety of different things: a parent who fails to properly protect and maintain the child, as well as to ensure that their educational needs are met, could be determined by the court to be unfit to care for the child. Another hallmark of a parent who is unfit to provide safety and nourishment for their child is one who engages in dangerous or reckless behavior that could endanger the child, such as someone who abuses drugs or alcohol or someone who has a history of violence in the home. Such a person could lose their custodial or parenting time agreement rights to visitation.
What constitutes an unfit parent in New Jersey?
A New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge will review a case against a parent alleged of being unfit to have visitation or custodial rights in a custody hearing. The judge will look for evidence that the parent has created physical, emotional, and psychological harm for the child.
This could include a parent who has:
- displayed dangerous behavior, either directly endangering the child or proving such behavior as habitual in or around the home;
- continuously struggled with alcohol and drug abuse;
- displayed mental health issues, either through examinations conducted in service of the child custody hearing, or prior;
- committed acts of domestic violence against the children or their ex-spouse;
- placed their child in danger by means of neglect.
How do you prove a parent unfit in Ocean County, NJ?
Proving that your ex-spouse is unfit to care for or visit your child is very difficult to do. This is because it is the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part’s primary focus to keep the well-being of involved children at the center of all custody hearings. And, the Court considers that it is in a child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. As such, in order to prove that a parent is unfit, you must show that your child was harmed by the behavior of your ex-spouse, and it is, therefore, the child’s best interest to not interact with your ex.
In order to prove that your ex is an unfit parent, you will need to gather substantial proof. This could come in the form of documentation such as social media posts and photos that display reckless behavior, court records showing prior legal trouble as well as prior domestic violence claims, medical records evidencing substance abuse, documentation from your child’s school in which they have been reviewed by a school psychologist, and other New Jersey documentation.
You can also document behaviors that show potential for harm for the child. In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families updated its system for identifying and reporting child abuse. The “Allegation-Based System” can be drawn from to prove that a parent is unfit to have custodial access or visitation rights to a child. The fifteen factors for determining whether a parent is causing harm to a child and is therefore unfit to enjoy basic parenting time agreement rights are reasonably straightforward. In some cases, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) will become involved, since they are required to initiate an investigation after receiving any report of child abuse or neglect.
Seek the advice of a Family Law attorney to help you make wise decisions for you and your children’s best interest in Brick, NJ
It is highly advisable to consult with a well-versed attorney who regularly handles New Jersey family law and child custody issues to ensure you have strong foundations for your case. When you retain one of the attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC., you know you can count on a professional who will walk by your side every step of the way. Moving through the law and all of its implications requires knowledge and experience that our attorneys have at your service.
Contact us online or call us today at (732) 812-3102 and allow us to help you in these troublesome times. We are ready to serve your needs as we often do for clients in Howell, Toms River, Manchester, Jackson, Lacey, Point Pleasant, Neptune, and Wall. You can also schedule an appointment to visit our offices in Brick and Sea Girt for a free consultation.