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New Hampshire child custody laws, unfit parent

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2023 | Family Law

Sometimes, marital or family issues disrupt the holidays, such as if a parent/spouse files for divorce. Many times, these seemingly untimely decisions are made to protect children from abuse or other neglect. When a parent filing for divorce believes the other parent is unfit, sole child custody may be the answer.  

Physical custody refers to where the child will live following a divorce. Legal custody is the authority to make decisions on a child’s behalf. If a parent believes their ex is placing a child at risk, a petition for sole physical and legal custody can be filed in family court.  

Evidence must prove that a parent is unfit for child custody 

Most judges agree that kids fare best in a divorce if they maintain active relationships with both parents. However, the issues included in the following list may convince a judge that one or the other parent is unfit for custody: 

  • Parent has been diagnosed with mental illness 
  • Evidence of parental substance abuse, such as alcohol or drug addiction 
  • Neglect or abandonment 
  • Abusive behavior toward the children 

A parent who requests sole child custody must be prepared to show just cause. This means that the parent making the request is tasked with providing evidence to substantiate the allegations that the other parent is not fit for custody 

Sole custody is sometimes temporary 

In some cases, a judge may order temporary sole child custody to a New Hampshire parent. For example, if a parent has a substance abuse problem, the other parent might be granted sole custody until the unfit parent completes a rehabilitation program. A judge can restrict visitation in the meantime, such as ordering supervision during all visits. If necessary, a judge can prohibit all contact between a parent and child following a divorce. Children’s best interests should be the central focus of all custody proceedings. 

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