Blogs from October, 2022

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What Makes a Parent Unfit in Iowa?


Parents often disagree on how to raise children, especially if they are divorced. In many cases, mismatched parenting styles are among the reasons for divorce. These disagreements can get heated and contentious, but ultimately,

If you don’t like the other parent’s methods, there isn’t much legal recourse for resolving the issue. They may be unwilling to change their behavior, and the court grants them the freedom to parent how they wish.

The court requires special circumstances to deem a parent “unfit” to raise children. It doesn’t remove a parent’s rights lightly. Even when it does, it often gives the unfit parent time to correct their behavior and regain their rights. It may even order them to addend certain programs to help them get better.

If you are concerned about your child’s welfare with their co-parent, here are some of the criteria Iowa uses to rule that a parent is unfit.

The Parent Poses a Direct Danger to the Child

Children are not designed to fend for themselves. They rely on responsible adults to take care of their needs. When those needs are not met, the child is endangered. In those instances, the state can step in.

Here are some examples:

  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Poor hygiene
  • Abandonment
  • Poor healthcare
  • Lack of proper nutrition

Many of the above categories can be defined in various ways. For example, “abandonment” can include leaving the child alone for extended periods; refusing to meet child support obligations; being incarcerated; and more.

The Parent is Uninvolved

Don’t confuse this standard for being lazy or being a “hands-off” parent. Legally, you have no obligation to help your kids with their homework, attend their soccer games, etc.

An unfit parent is uninvolved to the point of neglect. They pay no attention to whether the child is attending school, or they may not even bother to enroll them. Uninvolved parents don’t manage their child’s healthcare. They don’t help when the kid is sick; they don’t take the kids to doctors when needed; etc.

The Parent Has Substance Abuse Issues

Parents who are struggling with drugs or alcohol tend to exhibit many of the behaviors described above. They can be neglectful, abusive, and so on.

However, even high-functioning addicts could lose their kids. A concerned parent or family member can approach the court, and if they can prove that the parent is an addict, they may be able to take custody of a child.

The court can be empathic toward parents struggling with addiction. It often orders these parents to attend rehab and other programs. This is especially true when the parent shows a willingness to change. Once the parent has proven themselves and passed the ordered programs, they may be able to regain their rights.

The Parent Is Simply Incapable

Many of the issues discussed above describe a person who makes bad, possibly evil choices. Some good-hearted parents, however, simply don’t have the capacity to raise children.

Perhaps a capable parent suffers a debilitating injury, and they can’t keep up with the kids anymore. Maybe they develop mental health issues that inhibit them. In some cases, children must be removed from someone who is mentally challenged.

It is an unfortunate, sad situation, but legally, someone who loves their kids could still be “unfit.”

If you’re concerned about your child’s safety with another parent, our firm can help. We can assist in filing the proper paperwork and gathering the evidence you need to prove your claim. For a free consultation, call us today at (515) 200-7571 or contact us online.