How to Prove a Parent is Unfit in a Child Custody Case

Proving a parent is unfit in a child custody case is not easy. Here are a few examples of how to gather evidence when dealing with substance abuse, child abuse or child neglect.

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If you are seeking sole custody of your child one way to do this is to prove that the other parent is unfit. Proving the unfitness of a parent is not always easy to do. In my practice, I have been able to prove unfitness of a parent by proving evidence of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, alcoholism, etc.

This includes both illegal drugs and prescription drugs. If the other parent has a history of drug abuse for a significant number of years this should be brought before the court. Also important is whether or not they are currently in a drug or alcohol treatment program. Have they been through treatment or rehab but continue to relapse?

However, they don’t have to have a drug or alcohol problem for a number of years. If you can prove that there is drug or alcohol abuse going on presently this is also taken into consideration.

There are things you can do to help prove drug abuse in a custody case:

1. Request ongoing court-ordered drug tests in your custody case.
A failed drug test in a custody case can be a good indication of drug addiction in the parent.

2. Be required to get a drug screening and be evaluated for a drug treatment program at the treatment center. This involves being interviewed and assessed on how significant substance abuse is. The center can then recommend a treatment protocol to follow. If the other parent fails to follow the treatment program this is very good for your case.

Another Way to Show that a parent is unfit is to show evidence of child abuse or child neglect. Allegations of child abuse are very serious, so you must be prepared to back it up with proof. Abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse

Some examples of child neglect can be not providing meals when they should, skipping meals,, not monitoring the child doing homework, missing school, being left alone at the house, if they go to school tired or dirty, or without lunches, etc. If you can show a pattern of neglect it can show the parent is neglectful and should not have custody or parenting time.

Also, if there is evidence of child abuse such as police reports, criminal conviction, restraining or protection orders they are good pieces of evidence to provide the judge in your custody battle. Now keep in mind that just because the other parent has a substance abuse problem it does not necessarily mean they are unfit.

The judge will look at many factors which are called the ‘Best Interest of the Child’ factors which by law the court has to consider all as a whole when making a decision in a custody case. So I would not hang my hat on just this one factor. It might be that the judge not give you sole custody but reduce the parenting time of the other parent.


☎️You may Contact Wendy Hernandez at 602-230-2333 or visit

💼Wendy Hernandez is a family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ and founder of Command the Courtroom which teaches you how to handle yourself in court and achieve the best outcome when representing yourself in your divorce or child custody case.



*This video recording is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as the rendering of legal advice. The viewing of this recording does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is only formed when you have signed an engagement agreement. We cannot guarantee results. Past results do not guarantee future results. Consult with a licensed attorney for information regarding the specifics of your case.



23 thoughts on “How to Prove a Parent is Unfit in a Child Custody Case”

  1. Where is a guardian ad litem on the case the judge doesn't look at anything the guardian ad litem goes before a judge and says which parent she thinks should get the Kid and the judge says are you sure and she says yes so they sign the paperwork and me and my ex were off I got the kid so when is the judge hear anything this is what I want to know cuz I never even got to speak to a judge

  2. Could you please tell me if an order is written where the mother is ordered to do a 5 screen drug test NO earlier than 4 hours before pickup and she fails the marijuana one, does she still get to take the kids?

  3. Hi. I appreciate your videos, they help a lot. I don’t have thousands of dollars for a custody lawyer and my child’s father is not responsible with her at all. He drinks and drugs and he talks to her like she is an adult. She is 6 and he has left her home alone! So how would I mention this in court?

  4. Be a women. Im joking just my experience my ex is a heroin addict ive never used and work she has full custody she has no home lives at her parents I have my own place. I pay alot each month and half the time I'm hearing she spent it on her hair or clothes. Shit is a joke boston court system is a joke.

  5. Is the custodial parent responsible for taking kids to the doctor and dentist. She is getting all appointments sent to her and is not notifying me.

  6. I’m 12 and I absolutely hate my mom because she hates me and only loves my brother. She openly told me she only wanted a boy. She also tells my brother I love you every night but I’ve never been told I love you before. She constantly rude to me and when I was a little younger she would slap me with a belt. One time my older sister was asleep and she slapped me with a belt then shut the door in the closet so no one could hear me. My dad loves me but he has a felony for something he did 10 years ago and he has changed but … idk 🙁

  7. Hi I live in California I already have full soul custody since my daughter was 1 and a half we were both CPS involved 2 time both times she didn't do all that she was souped to do first she had over nights every other weekend and 3 hours a week. Now the second time we were CPS involved we were in and argument were she staved me with a wine bottle opener she was in jail for it she didn't do none of the classes or therapy that CPS wanted her to do so she was denied services I did everything they asked from me and got our daughter back from CPS after almost 3 months. Last November the case was closed I got full custody and she only got 2 hours a week supervised but now recently she served me with court papers were she states that she want more tome and overnights and that she completed clases and therapy and substance abuse since she is and alcoholic, well during that time she was doing all that she was drunk calling me at 20:30 am and 3:30am and texting me drunk saying crazy stuff and I have all those text and call registered in my cell phone can I use them in court.

  8. My ex only abuses others. He is a covert narc and will stop at nothing to lie and record etc.. he has already went to the police and it fell through. He loves the courts and has out lawyered me! A very dangerous man

  9. My child's father is addicted to methamphetamines. I have tried to be civil and give him visitations with our child inside my home once every Sunday where I can supervise the visit to make sure she is safe. When he comes over 90% of the time he is being manipulative, emotionally or mentally abusive. He blames me for everything. He helps out when its convenient for him. I'm tired of the abuse and I'm so scared to take this to court because what if they hand over my child to him for overnight stays? I dont even know where or who he lives with. He says he room shares with a bunch of guys. He also doesn't have an adequate vehicle that can transport carseats. His truck is a 2 seater. He has never been physical with my kid but I dont trust him alone with her. He nods out at my house all the time falling asleep on the couch when he should be spending time with her. I feel so helpless. I feel like it's okay for him to do whatever he wants, say whatever he wants and I'm forced to deal with his destructive behavior every week while raising my child by myself Monday-Saturday.

  10. child support wants me to prove that my child lives with me and he is only 2…but I'm not on his birth certificate…I managed to get him under my health insurance…but I don't have school records and he hasn't been to the doctor on my insurance yet…Can't find the receipts for all the stuff I buy him daily…idk what to do

  11. I am fighting for custody of my grandson. His mom died March 29th and they lived with me. The father had liberal visitation and never tried to see the child. He also never give a dime in child support. The child is scared to death he will be taken from the only home he has ever known. Can the father win?

  12. Just because a child has bruises does not automatically mean their being abused . Sometimes it's because they have fallen or walked into something fell on a toy etc. Sometimes it's due to.brusiing easy I bruise easy and I'm not abused by my partner. People think am I because his ex baby mama was crazy . Hes never hurt me .

  13. Other parent has drug abuse problem for years currently taking methadone which I’m glad she’s getting help I am her biggest supporter. My question is she’s currently in jail we have no set court agreement I feel my daughter should be with me and not the grandmother her mother.

  14. Although I am the primary. We have no longer resided in the same state when we filed divorce and custody. The non custodial parent has not visited our kids in three years. The past years he's gotten arrested twice for DUI. I want to go to the State to visit my family but afraid that he may want to have the kids with him. He's gotten verbally abusive towards myself and physically towards his new wife. No police report was filed so there is no record. Can I still file for soul custody?

  15. What about if the step parent allows the minor under 10 years old to try moonshine or any form of alcohol

  16. What about if your dad is an Alki and used to be psychically abusive but now not and the just do it verballie and the kid has thought of suicide and cant sleep at night because he is scared that his dad will do something and his mum is poor like really poor and she is really depressed and the kid cuts himself and has attempted and has still thoughts of suicide what would happen would child service get involved and the kid gets taken away because that kid is me and I'm nervous because I heard something about child service

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