Fitness is the ability and intention of a parent to take care of and raise their child well. The ability of a parent to care for their child is a measure of their ability to provide things such as adequate food, shelter, health care, education, and a safe and supportive environment for the child. A court may also consider aspects of the parents’ lives such as financial, marital, and career stability, physical and mental health, and criminal history.
In contested adoption cases where each parent seeks custody, the more "fit" parent will prevail. In those cases, the question is whether the parent, at least within a reasonable time, will be able to care for the child in a way that does not endanger the child’s welfare. A parent will be deemed as unfit if they are or will remain unable or unwilling to care for the child.
[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]