Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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When Does Illinois Allow the Termination of Parental Rights?

When Does Illinois Allow the Termination of Parental Rights?Illinois family courts rarely decide to terminate parental rights. An unfit parent may lose a significant portion of their allocation of parental responsibilities, but courts want to avoid terminating someone’s parental status and leaving a child with one legal parent. The child support obligation is the most pressing issue because losing financial support from one parent could hurt the child. There is also an emotional benefit to the child knowing they have two parents, even if one is less active in their lives. Despite the negatives, there are two situations in which a court will consider terminating a parent’s rights:

  • Cases involving adoption; and
  • Unfit parent cases brought by the state.


As previously mentioned, a family court is highly unlikely to grant a request to terminate the parental rights of one of the biological parents, whether it is voluntary or involuntary. However, it may consider the request if there is another adult who is willing to adopt the child. This adult would most likely be someone who has married one of the biological parents and become a stepparent. The process is simplest when a biological parent voluntarily surrenders their rights as a parent. Contested cases are more difficult because the parent requesting the termination will need to prove that the other parent is unfit and has shown no interest in the child.

Juvenile Cases

The state can initiate a parental termination case on a recommendation from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. There are three reasons that the DCFS may claim that a parent is unfit:

  • Abuse;
  • Neglect; and
  • Dependency.

Abuse is physical or psychological damage that the parent causes the child. Neglect is failing to attend to the child’s wellbeing. Dependency is an inability to care for a child, possibly for reasons that the parent cannot control. It is rare that the state will pursue parental termination without another adult who is ready to adopt the child. There would need to be an urgent risk to the child, such as repeated cruelty or abandonment.

Contact a Naperville Family Law Attorney

Pursuing the termination of parental rights is never a decision you should make flippantly. Both biological parents are important in the emotional development of their children. If you believe your co-parent is unfit to raise your children, there are ways to limit their parental rights without eliminating them. A DuPage County family law lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you obtain an allocation of parental responsibilities that best serves your children. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.


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