When Can Parental Rights Be Terminated in Illinois?

 Posted on April 10, 2020 in Child Custody

DuPage County parental responsibilities attorneyWhen married parents get a divorce or unmarried parents are separated, arrangements for child custody will be put in place. A court-approved parenting plan will include decisions regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time. While parenting agreements are meant to protect a parent’s rights as a father or rights as a mother, there are some circumstances where a person’s parental rights may be involuntarily terminated. Illinois has extensive rules and guidelines in place to determine when the termination of parental rights is appropriate.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Parental rights will only be terminated if it can be proven that a person is unfit as a parent, and remaining in contact with their child or children will not be in the child’s best interests. Some ways a parent might be considered unfit include:

  • Child abandonment

  • Mental illness or other mental capacity issues that prevent the parent from fulfilling his/her obligations

  • Conviction or incarceration that prevents parenting

  • Persistent neglect of the child

  • Physical abuse of the child (two or more times)

  • Death of a child by physical abuse

  • Sexual abuse or assault

  • Persistent inability to provide sufficient food, clothing, and shelter

  • Lack of communication and visitation with the child for 12 months

  • Lack of reasonable concern, responsibility, or interest with regards to the child’s well-being

  • Inability to protect the child from unsafe conditions

  • At least one year of habitual drunkenness or drug addiction

Special Circumstances in Illinois Regarding Parental Fitness

It is important to note that in Illinois, a parent may only be found “unfit” in the context of either the Adoption Act or a juvenile criminal case. For instance, one parent may seek the termination of the other parent’s parental rights when pursuing a step-parent adoption by a new spouse. If the other parent does not want to voluntarily give up his or her parental rights, the other parent may need to demonstrate to the court why that parent is considered unfit. In juvenile criminal cases, neither the biological mother nor the biological father can make accusations of “parental unfitness” in court. In these cases, the state will intervene on the child’s behalf to help provide them with a safe family situation.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Family Law Attorney

While the termination of parental rights for your child may not necessarily play a role in your family law case, you should be sure to understand your rights as you address issues related to parental responsibilities and parenting time. For legal help, call a DuPage County child custody lawyer at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation. We will work with you to ensure that your child’s best interests are protected at all times.





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