If 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:
Abandonment at a hospital or any location where it is indisputable that the parent seeks to give up parental rights
A lack of concern for the child’s welfare
Deserting the child for more than three months
Continuous neglect of the child
Continuous neglect of any child in the household that resulted in death
Failure to protect the child
Conviction of first- or second-degree murder
A person who is accused of being unfit can contest the petition to terminate his or her parental rights, and he or she may provide evidence to dispute the allegations of being an unfit parent. Potential types of proof may include child support payments and examples of correspondence with the child. In some cases, it may be possible that the filing parent is trying to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child.
Even if a judge finds the parent in question to be unfit, parental rights and responsibilities will typically not be terminated unless the child is being adopted by another party. This ensures that a child has two parents to provide for his or her needs. Instead, the court may place limitations or restrictions on the parent in question so that the best interests of the child are served.
Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney
Illinois is different from many states when it comes to the termination of parental rights, and it is important to understand the legal processes that must be followed in these cases. If you believe that terminating parental rights is in the best interests of your child, contact an experienced Wheaton child custody lawyer at Andrew Cores Family Law Group. Call 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.