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What is Considered an Unstable Home for a Child in Texas?

A child custody case is often one of the most difficult and emotionally-charged periods in a parent’s life. This is often even more true if there is a belief that one parent will not be able to provide a safe and stable home for the children in question. Thankfully, the Judge in your child custody case will make the custody decision based on what is in the best interest of the child and this will include considerations of whether one parent is unfit or their home is unstable.

There are many factors that could contribute to one party being deemed an unfit parent or their home being deemed too unstable for a child. These factors include financial instability, abuse, violence, lack of access to essential needs, and many more. We will explore each of these in the article below.

Here at Skillern Firm, we handle custody disputes with the child’s welfare as our central concern. That means fighting for the parental rights you desire while negotiating with compassion, emotional intelligence, and legal skill.

For more information on how an attorney from our law firm could help you, call us at 936-213-8479.

The Judge Will Prioritize The Best Interests Of The Child

When determining custody rights, a Texas Judge should always make decisions based on what is best for the child’s life. This means they will evaluate each possible solution based on the child’s emotional needs, the child’s health, access to their family, and their safety.

Texas courts should never take unrelated biases, such as gender, into account when determining custody rights. You should receive the same consideration as the other parent whether you are male or female.

What Constitutes An Unstable Home For A Child?

There are no explicit legal definitions of an unstable home, just as there are no explicit definitions of an unfit parent. Instead, the Judge will evaluate a number of factors to determine whether or not a home is unstable or a parent is unfit.

Evidence of an unstable home can take many forms, which we will explore in the sections below this. Every custody battle is unique, so the court will evaluate the evidence on a case-by-case basis.

Financial Instability

We understand that financial instability is not necessarily a reflection of a person’s ability to be a parent. However, unfortunately, financial instability can seriously impact a child’s living conditions and their quality of life.

As such, if one parent involved in the case has significant debt or a history of long-term unemployment, this can impact the likelihood of their home being deemed stable.

Safe Standards Of Living

When investigating which parent’s home is in the child’s best interest, living conditions will be a large part of the consideration.

Essentially, this means asking whether each parent can provide for the child’s basic needs. That means having adequate shelter, food to eat, clean drinking water, a way to get to their education, and access to medical care if they need it. Additional considerations may be made for factors such as the cleanliness and hygiene of the home, and other similar household tasks and responsibilities that could impact the child’s safety or well-being.

Emotional Well-Being

As well as being provided for physically in the home, the court will try to ensure that the emotional environment is stable.

This does not necessarily just mean avoiding emotional abuse. It also means that the environment is free from things that could cause a child anxiety, fear, or anger – such as an unstable relationship or a history of emotional problems. Similarly, children should not be exposed to an atmosphere of emotional neglect.

Time Available To Spend With The Child

Generally speaking, parents who are unable to spend the appropriate amount of quality time with their children are less likely to be deemed as providing stable homes.

Again, this might not necessarily be the fault of the parent. They may work long hours or have a job that requires frequent overseas travel. However, the court is likely to rule that a parent in one of these situations is unable to provide adequate supervision for their children.

Social Instability

A home can be deemed unfit for the stability of a child if they are likely to regularly come into contact with other individuals who would create an unsafe or threatening environment for that child.

Unsuitable individuals could take many forms. It could be someone who has a history of violence, substance abuse, sexual misconduct, a potentially dangerous mental condition, or anything else that could pose the risk of a potentially dangerous situation for the child involved.

The House Of An Unfit Parent

If the court in a child custody case finds one parent unfit, it is almost certain that the house of the unfit parent will also be deemed unstable.

Someone may be deemed an unfit parent for a number of reasons, all hinging on the fact that giving them custody rights would not be in the child’s best interest. The unfit parent may have a history of domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, child neglect, felonious behavior, parental alienation, sexual abuse, or many other behaviors that would put a child at risk of various types of harm.

It is up to the Judge to decide if a parent is unfit. There are no set criteria for an unfit parent. Instead, the Judge will attempt to determine if contact with this parent is in the best interest of the child’s physical and emotional well-being.

The Likely Impact Of A Parent Being Found To Have An Unstable Home

If a parent is deemed to have a home that is too unstable to be in the child’s best interest, there are several possible impacts. Which of these will be the case is up to the court to determine, and it will usually be judged on the evidence of risk to the child.

At the most extreme end of the scale, the accused parent may lose custody entirely. This means they will have no legal right to possession or visitation rights with their child. This is usually the case for a parent unfit to safely contact their child at all – for example, someone whose household has a history of family violence, emotional abuse, or another similar dangerous risk.

Some unstable homes will impact the parental rights of that party and cause them to receive a less preferential custody order but not lose custody entirely. This may mean they have less rights to make decisions in the parenting plan or are limited to visitation alone.

A Judge Will Aim For A Joint Custody Order

As we mentioned earlier, a Judge should always base decisions around the best interest of the child in the case. This means that a Judge should aim to give both parents custody, or at least physical access, to a child if possible. This is because it is believed that allowing the child to have a relationship with both parents is highly important.

This means that, even if a home is found to be unstable, the Judge will attempt to facilitate a child custody situation where both parents can see the child. Of course, this should not be the case if there is evidence that one parent poses a risk of abuse or family violence to the child.

What Counts As Evidence Of An Unstable Home Or The Potential For Neglect?

If you believe that the other parent or their home is not safe for your child, you should seek legal help. It is highly likely that you will need to present evidence to the court to prove your argument – a custody attorney can help you collect and collate this evidence.

What evidence you could use to attempt to prove your claims will depend on your case. However, examples of evidence items that could be useful include:

  • Official documents, such as court documents, medical records, criminal records, and police reports
  • Text messages, social media screenshots, voicemail messages, or other pieces of relevant media
  • Witness statements made by others, such as friends, neighbors, teachers
  • Expert witness statements, like those from medical professionals, child psychologists, or other relevant people of expertise

Hire A Child Custody Lawyer From Skillern Firm

The risk of leaving a child with a home or a parent unfit to care for them is a common element of child custody cases following divorce. Here at Skillern Firm, we have handled countless cases like this in the past, and have the practice, compassion, and legal skill to navigate them with the best chance of achieving a positive result while avoiding any unnecessary conflict.

To find out how our law firm could help you with your custody dispute, call today on 936-213-8479.

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