How to Prove You Are a Fit Parent in Court

When a party's ability to parent is questioned, the Wisconsin Court will look to ensure that the children's safety is maintained. Issues that the court views as problematic include substance abuse, mental health issues, and neglect.

Attorney Toby Kinsler, sits with Anthony Karls and explains how the Wisconsin courts, attorneys and Guardian ad Litem will determine if a parent is unfit. He will address how being an unfit parent effects a child custody case.

The Courts operate under the assumption that it is in the best interest of the child to have both parents involved. When a party's ability to parent is questioned, the Court will look to ensure that the children's safety is maintained. Issues that the court views as problematic include:

  • History of drug abuse
  • Alcoholism
  • Mental instability
  • Abandonment
  • Child Neglect
  • Criminal History

The Court will require that any allegation of a parent being unfit be proven by providing necessary supporting documentation such as police reports, photographs, medical files or other verifiable documentation. If you are concerned that your child is in imminent danger, the first point of contact is the police. An Attorney can assist you once you're able to verify that your children are safe.

Even with this documentation, the Court will have to determine whether the risk or wellbeing of the child outweighs the child's benefit of time with their other parent. The court assumes that it is in the best interest of the child to have as much placement with both parents as possible.

When it comes to deciding whether a parent is fit, it’s not about being on your best behavior. “The courts are wise to parents being on their best behavior when the courts are looking,” explains attorney Kinsler. “It’s about consistency. It’s not about changing everything about you now that an action has been filed.”

If a parent is concerned that the child is in imminent danger, the first point of contact is the police. An Attorney can assist you once the children are safe.

“There are several levels of proof,” says Attorney Kinsler. There is first person evidence. There is also 3rd person evidence and documented histories that will be considered in demonstrating a lack of fitness to be a parent. One of the greatest ways to find evidence is looking at a parent’s social media record.

Case Law Friday is a Sterling series focused on communicating in layman's terms cases of precedent, statutes that guide decisions, and court procedures important to getting results in family law.

We hope these deep-dive conversations create clarity, enabling you to better understand the rules that govern how decisions get made in family court.