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When Can Parental Rights Be Terminated in Illinois?

 Posted on September 17, 2021 in Child Custody / Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

IL family laywerIllinois courts and judges are very concerned with the well-being of children, and Illinois family law reflects that fact. Recent changes have been made to the law to encourage both parents to have an equal role in their relationship with their child whenever possible. As a result, it is rare for a court to decide to terminate a parent’s rights to see, care for, and have a relationship with their child.

However, termination of parental rights can happen when courts find it is in the best interest of the child. Termination happens when a parent is deemed unfit by the state and/or when another adult, such as a grandparent or stepparent, seeks to adopt a child.

When Is a Parent Considered Unfit?

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is the governmental division responsible for overseeing the wellbeing of children who have problems at home serious enough to require state intervention. There are three primary reasons that DCFS may consider a parent unfit for parental rights:

  • Neglect - When a parent fails to care for a child’s wellbeing, including providing appropriate food, shelter, clothing, medical, and other personal needs, this can be considered neglect.
  • Abuse - Abuse occurs when a parent causes psychological or physical damage to a child. Inflicting physical injury - beyond the realm of appropriate corporal punishment - is the most common type of abuse. Parents who sexually abuse, torture, or give controlled substances to a minor can also be found guilty of abuse.
  • Dependency - Dependency occurs when a parent cannot care for a child, often for reasons the parent cannot control such as addiction or serious mental illness.

If child abuse, neglect, or dependency is reported, DCFS will initiate a case with the State’s Attorney’s Office, which may then forward the case to a juvenile court and summon the child’s parent. During some or all of this time, the child may be taken into the protective custody of the state. Unless there is an imminent risk to the child, Illinois will generally not pursue termination cases unless there is someone available to adopt the child.

Can Parental Rights Be Terminated For an Adoption?

An Illinois court may consider terminating a parent’s rights if there is someone else who wants to adopt the child. The parent giving up their rights usually must do so voluntarily; it is often not possible to contest a case when one parent does not want to give up their parental rights so someone else (usually the child’s stepparent) can adopt the child. However, if one parent voluntarily gives up their rights or is found to be unfit by a juvenile court, their parental rights may be terminated and adoption may take place.

Speak with a Naperville Family Law Attorney

Termination of parental rights is a serious and difficult matter that requires a cautious and compassionate approach. If you are pursuing the termination of parental rights for your former spouse, or if you are a parent and you fear that your rights may be terminated, seek the help of an experienced DuPage County family law attorney right away. The lawyers at Calabrese Associates, P.C. are skilled in handling family law matters and can help you understand your rights under Illinois law. Call our offices today at 630-393-3111.



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