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Terminating a Parent's Rights Regarding a Child

 Posted on August 11, 2017 in Child Custody

Naperville family law attorneyIllinois courts are generally in favor of children having both parents in their lives, if at all possible. However, sometimes a parent is simply not an acceptable choice, for any number of reasons, to have any parental responsibilities. In other cases, a parent actively chooses to relinquish their parental rights. If either situation does become reality for you, there is a procedure in place to terminate your former spouse’s parental rights.

Juvenile Court Terminations

If there is evidence that a parent has been involved in criminal activity, the state can initiate proceedings vie the juvenile court system and the Department of Children and Family Services to terminate parental rights. There are very few situations where an Illinois court will terminate parental rights if another person is not standing in to adopt the child—terminating a father’s parental rights in favor of an adoptive stepfather, for example—but a pattern of criminal activity or proof of child abuse and/or significant neglect is one.

There are several actions listed in the law itself that can and do serve as grounds to allege parental unfitness. Many are fairly vague with room for subjective analysis, such as “failing to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility” in a child’s life. However, some cited behaviors are clear-cut, including a rebuttable presumption that a parent is unfit if two or more findings of child abuse perpetrated by the parent against any child.

Adoption Act Terminations

If you are in a position to seek termination of parental rights under the Illinois Adoption Act, such a proceeding usually goes more smoothly than one mounted by the state under the Juvenile Court Act. Proceedings under the Adoption Act are usually initiated by one parent, with the express purpose of terminating the parental rights of their former spouse so a new spouse may adopt their children. The former spouse must consent to the termination. Assuming all other criteria are met, Illinois courts will usually grant the termination request, as it is in keeping with the stated public policy aim of providing children with two parents.

Sometimes, however, such cases do not proceed smoothly. The most common challenge is that the other parent either cannot be found (and as such cannot consent to the termination of their rights), or they do not consent to the adoption. As with juvenile court proceedings, the other parent may be granted the opportunity to present evidence as to why his or her rights should not be terminated.

Work With an Experienced Legal Professional

After a divorce, many people are ready to move on far sooner than their former partners, especially if they have children whose interests come first. If you are in a position where you believe your children’s best interests would be served by terminating your ex’s parental rights, contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today.


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