When is a parent considered unfit to parent their own children? Allegations of being “unfit” must be shown by offering supporting documentation such as police reports, medical files or other authoritative documentation. Courts should look at many factors, as established by the Texas Supreme Court in Holley v. Adams. These include:
- Failure to support a child in accordance with the parent’s ability during a period of one year ending within six months of the date of filing a petition to terminate parental rights.
- Endangering the emotional well-being of the child.
- Evidence of significant criminal history.
- Commitment(s) to mental health facilities.
- Acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one, and termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.
- Any excuse for the foregoing acts or omissions.
- Failure to support the child within the two year period preceding the filing of the case commensurate with the party’s financial ability.
- The desires of the child.
- The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future.
- The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future.
- The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody.
- The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child.
- The plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody.
- The stability of the home or proposed placement.
- The acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one.
- Any credible excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
In a more recent case, In re S.V.H. v. TDFPS, the mother had a long drug history, a series of referrals to CPS for neglectful supervision and drug use, and there was testimony by a CASA volunteer that, not only did the mother and child not seem very bonded, but that the child seemed to display a series of adverse reactions to visits with or by mother for days following visits. This was particularly evident because the mother and grandfather engaged in conversations about things like where the child would be living in the future, and with whom, and whether the child could go on a trip to the beach with the mother. The standard of review was established as:
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