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Termination of Parental Rights

 Posted on December 22, 2017 in Family Law

Naperville family law attorneyAs the caretaker of a child, parents have some basic rights and responsibilities. Parents of a child have the right to raise their child in the manner that they believe is appropriate and have the responsibility to keep the child safe and provide for him or her. A court can take these rights away from a parent if he or she violates the law repeatedly or in a particularly heinous way. In certain situations, a parent can also voluntarily terminate his or her rights, which ends the legal parent-child relationship and absolves the parent of many responsibilities.

Involuntary Termination

In Illinois, one parent cannot simply petition the court for the termination of another parent’s rights. A parent’s rights can only be terminated in conjunction with the Adoption Act or in a juvenile case. Family courts start with the assumption that it is best for children to have two parents in their lives, except in cases where this is not in the best interest of the child or a parent is found to be unfit. In Illinois, a parent can be found unfit to be a parent if they:

  • Repeatedly neglect the child and ignore his or her basic needs;
  • Physically or sexually abuse the child;
  • Abandon the child;
  • Fail to visit or contact the child for 12 months;
  • Use illegal drugs or expose their child to controlled substances;
  • Do not provide a safe environment in which to raise the child; or
  • Are incarcerated.

Voluntary Termination

Sometimes, a parent may seek to terminate his or her parental rights willingly. Usually, parents choose to voluntarily terminate their rights when they are giving their child up for adoption. However, there are other instances when a parent does not wish to claim legal responsibility for their child.

A woman in Hawaii has petitioned to terminate her parental rights regarding a baby that her ex-wife gave birth to. This same-sex couple is in a complicated legal situation. According to the woman, who is in the military, her ex-wife conceived the child via a sperm donor while she was deployed. The marriage ended and the wife had the baby while the divorce was pending. The woman who did not give birth to the child wishes to sever her parental rights to the child. She claims that because she did not know of her ex-spouse’s plans to get pregnant, was not there for the birth of the child, and has not developed a relationship with the child, she should not be responsible for the child. While a case such as this also calls the presumption of legal parentage into question, it directly involves the voluntary termination of parental rights and obligations.

Seek Professional Assistance

If you have questions about terminating parental rights—yours or your ex-partner’s—our team can help you find the answers Contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney at Pesce Law Group, P.C. for guidance. Call 630-352-2240 for a confidential consultation at any of our four office locations.


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