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Five factors Massachusetts courts may consider when determining parental fitness

  1. A parent’s character, temperament, conduct, and capacity to provide for a child's particular needs, affections, and age. Adoption of Mary, 414 Mass. 705, 711 (1993).

  2. Evidence of alcohol or drug abuse is relevant to a parent's willingness, competence, and availability to provide care to a child. Care & Protection of Frank, 409 Mass. 492, 494 (1991).

  3. 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).

  4. Although the fact of incarceration alone cannot constitute grounds for the termination of parental rights, a parent’s compelled absence due to incarceration may properly be taken into account when determining parental fitness. Adoption of Nicole, 40 Mass. App. Ct. 259, 260-261 (1996).

  5. The realistic ability to provide shelter, food, love, guidance, discipline, stimulation, education, comfort and play. Adoption of Nicole, 40 Mass. App. Ct. 259, 261 (1996).

Disclaimer: 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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