What Are the Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights in Illinois?

shutterstock_1108958093Illinois law says that a child’s birth parents are presumed to be the natural parents, and they have certain rights and responsibilities — unless they opt to waive those rights. There may be limited situations where the courts may step in and terminate a parent’s rights involuntarily. This only happens when a family court judge feels that doing so would be in the best interests of the child.

Parents who have lost their parental rights do not have any authority in decision making for the child, nor do they possess any rights to parenting time with the child. There are rare instances where both parents involuntarily lose their parental rights. Their child would then be eligible for adoption by someone else. If you are a parent whose parental rights are being challenged, you can go to court to protest the termination of your rights. This is where an Illinois family law attorney can help.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

To have a parent’s rights terminated, it must be because he or she was “unfit.”  There are numerous factors that can cause a parent to be deemed unfit. Some of these include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Creation of an unsafe living environment
  • Repeated neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Disability or mental illness
  • Failure to visit or have contact with the child for 12 months
  • Regular substance abuse by the parent
  • Incarceration
  • Exposing children to controlled substances
  • Disinterest in the child’s welfare

If only one parent is deemed unfit, the other parent will likely receive a greater allocation of responsibilities and rights. The other option is to have the child placed in the care of the state’s Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

It is important to understand that being declared an unfit parent does not automatically equate to the parent losing all of his or her rights. The courts typically give a parent time to change their behavior and improve the situation first. The court will typically look to terminate a parent’s rights after their child has been in foster care for around 15 months.

In rare situations, the court may look to expedite the process in the event the parent meets one of the following criteria:

  • He or she has a documented history of sexually assaulting or abusing children.
  • He or she has been convicted of attempted murder or murder.
  • He or she has already lost their parental rights in another situation.
  • He or she is incapacitated, and there is only a small chance of recovery.

Challenging the Termination of Rights

During the hearing on termination of parental rights, the affected parent can make a claim that the termination is not in the child’s best interests. Some arguments that may be made could include that a relative is caring for the child, there is no one who is able and ready to assume parental rights of the child, there has been no effort by DCFS to reunite the parent with the child, or the parent would be more involved in their child’s life if they were not incarcerated.

Contact a Naperville Parental Rights Lawyer

If you are fighting against the termination of your parental rights, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced Lisle family law attorney. At Momkus LLC, we can advise you of your rights and advocate for you to be able to maintain a relationship with your child. Contact us at 630-434-0400 to schedule an initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075000500K1.htm

 

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