Written by attorney Robert J McCarthy Jr

Five considerations in determining parental unfitness in Massachusetts

  1. A parent’s ability to manage financial affairs is an appropriate consideration in the determination of unfitness. Petitions of the Department of Social Services to Dispense with Consent to Adoption, 399 Mass. 279, 289 (1987)

  2. It is in the best interest of a child to have a parent who will and can on a consistent, long term basis, assume all parental responsibility and provide the child with stable and continuous care. Adoption of Gwendolyn, 29 Mass. App. Ct. 130, 136 (1990).

  3. The failure of a parent to maintain a stable home life is relevant in the determination of fitness. Petition of the Department of Social Services to Dispense with Consent to Adoption, 399 Mass. 279, 289 (1987).

  4. A judge is free to rely on a parent’s patterns of neglect and misconduct in determining current unfitness. Adoption of Mario, 43 Mass. App. Ct. 767, 773 (1997).

  5. A trial judge is not required to wait for a disaster to happen before finding unfitness. Adoption of Rhona, 57 Mass. App. Ct. 479, 485 (2003).


None of the information or materials posted above is intended to constitute legal advice. Viewing this outline does not constitute an attorney client relationship. Local counsel should always be consulted before contemplating any legal action. The above information is general in nature and should not be undertaken without the express advice of an attorney of your choosing.

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Rob McCarthy is an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, before the military courts of the United States, before the United States Court of Military Appeals and before the federal district court of Massachusetts. He is a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a candidate for the U.S. Congress from Massachusetts in 2010. He may be reached at 781-816-9001.

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