Parental Unfitness is Important For Getting Custody of Grandchildren
Video Transcribed: What is parental unfitness? Hi, this is Tulsa attorney Justin Mosteller with the grandparents.attorney and I’m going to talk to you about this important topic for a little bit today.
Now, parental unfitness is a very important factor that the court can consider in guardianship cases or child custody cases.
When a parent is deemed to be unfit, it means that that parent is not a safe place for the child to be and it could result in that parent losing custody of the child or even losing their rights to the child over the course of time.
Now, in determining whether or not a parent is unfit, Oklahoma courts have relied on several factors that are important in making that type of consideration. First of all, drug or alcohol dependence is something that we see a lot.
If there is evidence that a parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and that substance abuse is occurring in the presence of the children, then there is a rebuttable presumption that that parent is unfit to take care of that child.
Now, another common factor that exposes unfitness is domestic violence. By statute, if a parent has been convicted of domestic violence within the last five years or is currently engaging in domestic violence, there again is a presumption that that parents should not have custody and there’s a presumption of unfitness.
Now, there’s several other statutes that establish some specific factors for parental unfitness. Among those is the issue of sex offenses. If a parent has ever been convicted of a sexual offense such that they are required to register, then that can be used as evidence of parental unfitness as well.
Similarly, crimes against children carry a very similar presumption of parental unfitness. Now, crimes against children can be abuse or neglect, and that’s another common situation that we see.
Now, all of these presumptions are rebuttable, meaning that once they are established you can overcome those presumptions with evidence.
However, the burden is fairly high and the burden is on the party that is shown to be unfit presumptively to overcome.
So it’s a pretty powerful weapon in custody cases and guardianship cases that should be looked into by your attorney. Now, if you have a custody issue in the state of Oklahoma and you need legal help, give our office a call, we can be reached at (918) 932-2800.