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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County child custody attorneyIf you share parental responsibilities regarding your child with a former partner who has proven time and again to be inconsistent and unreliable, terminating his or her parental rights may make the most sense to you. However, under Illinois law, unless there is another party willing to step in and adopt the child, parental rights usually will not be terminated at the request of the other parent, unless there are extreme circumstances involved.

What Does Termination of Parental Rights Mean?

When a person’s parental rights are terminated, it means that he or she is no longer legally responsible for a child. When this happens, the terminated parent no longer is required to make child support payments, but he or she also no longer has rights to parenting time or any say in how the child is being raised.

The Illinois Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50) states that the only circumstances in which a parent’s rights can be terminated are when another person is looking to adopt the child, or when a court has found that a parent is unfit. In most cases, the court will agree that a child will best benefit from the care, or at least the financial support, of two parents. However, parental rights may be terminated if a parent is shown to be unfit for one or more reasons, including:

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Posted on in Visitation

substance abuse, Wheaton divorce attorneysPrior to 2016, the excessive use or abuse of alcohol or illegal drugs by one spouse was a valid grounds for divorce in Illinois. When all fault grounds were eliminated in the state in 2016, irreconcilable differences became the only official reason for which a couple could seek a divorce. The reality, however, is that substance abuse is a real problem in many marriages, especially if the couple has children together. In the wake of a divorce, drug abuse can and may continue to affect parental responsibilities and each parent’s right to parenting time.

Dividing Parental Responsibilities

When you, as a parent, get divorced, you and the other parent are expected by law to come up with a reasonable agreement regarding parenting your child. Before your agreement will be approved, the court will read it over and decide whether the terms reflect the child’s best interests. If the court does not approve the proposal, or if you the parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will determine how parental responsibilities will be allocated. In doing so, the court must consider many different factors and create an arrangement to meet the needs of the child.

It is at this point that you should bring up any concerns related to your former partner’s drug or alcohol use. If you can show that the other parent’s drug abuse—including prescription drugs—or excessive alcohol use presents a physical, emotional, or moral danger to the child, the court will take that into consideration. The same is true if alcohol or drugs prevents the other parent from carrying out his or her assigned parental duties. In most cases, this would result in fewer parental responsibilities being given to parent with a substance abuse problem.

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