Divorce Solutions

Question #26

I live in New York State and am considering seeking physical and legal custody of my children. Is the term “unfit mother” defined anywhere by statute or case law? if not, can you explain what may persuade a court that a mother is unfit?

There is no legal “term” for unfit mother, and the courts generally look to the best interests of the child in determining who shall have custody of the child. The home environment will be investigated, whether there is a two-parent home, or just one parent, whether such parent is earning a good living to maintain the child in a positive environment, whether such parent has been a good parent in the past or has neglected the child, whether such parent is on drugs or has some other addiction that may interfere with the child ‘s upbringing, etc. It will be up to the specific judge to decide whether one or the other parent is unfit or whether one parent is more qualified to have exclusive custody of the child rather than the other.

If you were to choose to mediate your divorce, the determination would be left to both of you instead of a third party judge. For that reason, among others, I strongly suggest you consider mediation.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions