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When A Parent Is Unfit To Care For A Child
If the court determines that parents are unfit to care for their child, they may appoint a legal guardian for the support and maintenance of the child. Once appointed, a guardian has the right to make decisions about the care, custody and well-being of the child without input from the parents.
A parent may be deemed unfit for the following reasons:
- Abandonment of the child
- Mental illnesses
- Drug or alcohol addictions
- Acts of domestic violence
The power to determine whether a guardian should be appointed rests with the judge at the Probate and Family Court. The judge must find “clear and convincing evidence” that the parent(s) is unfit and that their behavior negatively affects the child’s well-being.
Simply put, being a “better parent” is not sufficient grounds for being a child’s legal guardian. When ruling on an application for guardianship, the judge will act in accordance with what is considered the best interest of the child. Unless factors such as the examples above come into play, it is usually considered most healthy for a child to have a relationship with both parents.
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