You may have heard the term “unfit parent” before, but this is not a definition recognized in Texas statute. Family courts do not judge people as guilty or not guilty, and they do not have the authority to determine the fitness of parents.

However, divorce courts could have the final say on who gets to spend time with your children and the nature of those parent-child interactions. To do this, the court would make individualized decisions on your complex child custody case based on a number of rules and guiding principles. First and foremost would be a concern for the best interests of your child.

The legal definition

Texas statute 5-B, 153.004, is not the only relevant law, but it is an important section when it comes to defining unfit parenthood. It lists a set of assumptions the court would make when one of the parents in your custody dispute has a certain type of legal history — specifically, evidence of family violence or sexual abuse.

A rebuttable presumption

With something called a rebuttable presumption, the court could assume that it would be a bad idea for the child to be in contact with someone with a history of perpetrating family, physical or sexual abuse. The person with the history of abuse could rebut — or argue with, in other words — this assumption. Rebuttal is a formal process, and success could result in the court awarding a certain level of child visitation.

It is important to note that statute is only part of the legal context in which your divorce case would operate. Judges and attorneys may also reference previous cases that had similar details to your own. Therefore, knowledge of the specifics of your case, the relevant case law and the statutory framework would all be necessary to secure the best possible answer for any question of unfit parenthood.