Defining Parental Unfitness
Parental unfitness, that generally comes up if we’re talking about guardianships. If we’re talking about where somebody’s wanting to come in and take custody from the parents, it’s not enough to show that they would be a better legal custodian, they have to affirmatively show that the parents are completely unfit or unavailable.
So what does it mean to be unfit? We don’t have a lot of direction, but we do have a little bit of direction. And essentially, it comes from a case, DHS v. Route. It’s a 2001 OKCIVAPP113. And that defines what unfitness means. And this is what it says. It says, a showing of a condition in life or character and habits which inhibit providing for the child’s ordinary comfort and contentment or for the child’s intellectual and moral development.
Comparing Unfitness in Custody Proceedings and Guardianship Proceedings
Okay, so that’s not very specific, it’s a very subjective standard, but it also notes the unfitness must stand on its own and cannot just be a comparison between the two parties vying for custody. So that’s definitely the important part there. If we’ve got two parents fighting over custody, they’re on an equal playing field. So whichever one can best demonstrate that they’re better is in a comparison between the two, should be the one that gets custody for the best interest of the children.
It is not the same standard if we’re talking about unfitness in a guardianship proceeding. There, it’s not enough for the guardian to show that they’d be a better custodian because they’re not on the same footing. Parents have a constitutional right to the care and custody of their kid. That can only be interfered with if certain standards are met, and that’s a standard where we’re talking about demonstrating unfitness, where we have to show that some of these things are not met there, but it does get a little subjective.
Seeking Legal Advice for Your Family Law Matter
But what we do know, it’s not a comparison. They’ve gotta show unfitness, which means showing a condition in life, character and habits which inhibit the providing for the child’s ordinary comfort and contentment or for the child’s intellectual and moral development. So based on that standard, a lot of argument could be made. It is subjective, you could make arguments, but what we do know is that it’s not a comparison.
If you’ve got any question about a family law matter in the state of Oklahoma, then you’re gonna wanna talk to an attorney about that privately and confidentially to receive legal advice specific to your circumstances. To get that schedule, somebody at my office, you can go online to MakeLawEasy.com.
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