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Terminating Parental Rights in Illinois

Legal concept meaning Termination of Parental Rights with sign on the piece of paper.

When a child’s complete separation from a parent is warranted in Illinois, the courts may terminate parental rights as part of an adoption by someone else or as part of a juvenile case when abuse, neglect or abandonment is proved. Parents, guardians, or other family members may file a petition to terminate a parent’s legal rights. Unless the parent in question voluntarily consents to the termination, the process requires the court to evaluate the fitness of the parent and whether terminating the parent’s rights would be in the child’s best interests.

Legal concept meaning Termination of Parental Rights with sign on the piece of paper.

What It Means to Terminate Parental Rights

When the parental rights of one parent are terminated, the mother or father is no longer legally responsible for the child. Consequently, that parent will lose his or her right to make decisions regarding the child and he or she will no longer be entitled to parenting time.

The termination of parental rights is governed by the Illinois Adoption Act. Under the law, the courts are required to perform a two-part analysis.

Unfit for Parenting

With the exception of cases in which a child’s biological mother or father consents to the termination of parental rights to allow for a stepparent’s adoption, terminating rights requires proof that the parent in question is unfit to provide proper parenting for the child.

This could include cases where the parent is:

  • deemed unfit due to mental incapacity or illness
  • determined to be chronically negligent in the child’s care
  • convicted or jailed
  • negligent in providing provide food, clothing, and other necessities for the child despite being able to do so
  • proven to have physically abused the child on two or more occasions, or has abused the child to the point of causing the child’s death

Doing What’s Right for the Child

In court cases that involve children, including divorce cases, the child’s best interests are the main focus of the court. Because of this, courts consider the child’s health and safety, as well as his or her reasonable preferences, and the impact the termination would have on the mental and physical well being of the child.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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