Children don’t come with manuals to help their moms or dads raise them leaving many of them to learn on the fly. While many adults are hard-wired to care for and nurture their own children and some grow their parenting skills the more hands-on experience that they get, others never really get the hang of parenting. There are also some parents that initially dote on their kids — but become unfit to care for their children over time due to any number of reasons (especially alcohol and drug addiction). Some of those last two groups of parents will eventually be declared “unfit” parents and lose custody of their children.

If you’re looking for a succinct definition as to what makes a parent unfit parent, however, that’s hard to come by.

In Nevada, state lawmakers refer to any mom or dad who doesn’t provide their child with an appropriate amount of support, care and guidance as an unfit parent.

Lawmakers in Illinois, on the other hand, say that a parent has to neglect, desert, lose interest in or abandon their child to be considered unfit. Cruelty and abuse can also make Illinois parents “unfit.”

An Ohio judge will generally consider what’s in a child’s best interest before designating a parent as unfit. Once a mom or dad is classified as this, it can have serious implications on their parent-child relationship.

Moms and dads who are deemed to be unfit may have their parental rights terminated, lose custody of their child or have requests for visitation denied. In instances in which a judge decides that both parents are equally unfit, a child may be put up for adoption.

As a mom or dad, you likely want to do what’s best for your child, even if that means having their other parent temporarily or permanently removed from their life. It may be necessary to ask a judge to declare the other parent “unfit” in order to modify the custody and visitation order in a way that makes sense for your situation.

Find out about the alternatives you have and get help deciding how to proceed with your custody modification case today.