What Makes a Parent Unfit in Florida?

When your child’s other parent puts your child in jeopardy, you may need to take action to protect them. You can do so by proving to the Florida family courts that they are unfit. However, proving a parent is unfit can be challenging. Here is more about what you can do to prove a parent is unfit under the law. 

When Is a Parent Unfit Under Florida Law?

According to Florida Statute §751.05, parents can be found unfit if they abuse, neglect, or abandon their children. Parents who are dealing with severe substance abuse issues or mental health problems could also be considered unfit parents. It does not matter whether the behavior is recent or they have a long history of these behaviors.

Generally, in instances of substance abuse or mental illness, the judge will be unwilling to allow a child to be placed in a potentially dangerous situation. You could expect the judge to order supervised or limited custody if they award the other parent sole custody.

Factors That Influence the Court’s Decision

There are many factors that will have an impact on whether a court determines a parent is unfit. Generally, in instances where abuse or neglect occurs, the court is more willing to consider a parent unfit. Examples of abuse and neglect could include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Failure to provide necessary clothing
  • Failure to provide adequate shelter
  • Failure to provide a child
  • Keeping a filthy home, such as rodent infestation or black mold
  • Parental alienation
  • Failing to bring a child to healthcare providers or dentists
  • Failure to ensure a child in
  • False allegations of abuse or neglect
  • Accusations of domestic violence

Proving a Parent is Unfit in Florida

You will need to be able to prove that your child’s other parent is unfit if you hope to gain sole custody, as you cannot expect the judge to grant you sole custody without substantial reason. Some of the different types of evidence that could be used to prove your child’s other parent is unfit include:

  • Photos of injuries
  • Video of domestic violence incidents
  • Testimony from expert witnesses, such as psychologists, counselors, or physicians
  • School records
  • Dental records
  • Medical records
  • Statements from family, friends, and teachers who may have been privy to the unfit parent’s actions

You should be prepared to attend a hearing where you will have the opportunity to introduce this evidence. The judge will consider the evidence and determine whether rendering the child’s other parent unfit is in their best interests. 

If it is, they may award you sole custody. They may also award the child’s other parent supervised or limited custody rights. In severe circumstances, the judge has the authority to terminate the parental rights of a parent who is unfit.


Proving a parent is unfit can be a difficult burden to take on. Unfortunately, you need to take action if you hope to protect your child. You can get help proving your child’s parent is unfit when you reach out to an experienced Florida family law attorney at Waserstein and Nunez, PLLC. You can reach us through our online contact form or by phone at (305) 563-1011 to get started on your case today.

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Waserstein & Nunez, PLLC

Waserstein & Nunez, PLLC is a boutique law firm with extensive and varied experience of a large law firm. They are geared towards deal-making and solutions but always preparing and ready for trial or Plan B.

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