Category Archives: Child Custody

How Illinois Courts Treat Mental Disability When Determining Parental FitnessA recent Illinois Supreme Court case dealt with what consideration the state should have given to a man’s mental disability before seeking to terminate his parental rights. In order to terminate a parent’s rights, the state must independently prove that the parent is unfit and that terminating his or her rights would be in the child’s best interest. In People of the State of Illinois v. J.B., the state petitioned to remove the defendant’s parental rights. The state cited two subsections of Illinois’ Adoption Act that say a parent is unfit if he or she:

  • Fails to show interest in or concern for the child; or
  • Does not make reasonable progress towards reuniting with the child.

An Illinois juvenile court ruled in favor of the state, but an appellate court overturned that ruling. The appellate court’s majority decision said that: 

  • The defendant could not reasonably comply with state’s expectations for parental fitness because of his mental disability; and 
  • The state did not do enough to accommodate the defendant’s limitations.

The Supreme Court sided with the juvenile court’s decision to terminate the defendant’s parental rights.

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Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights in IllinoisA child’s birthparents are presumed by law to have parental rights and responsibilities, unless the parents choose to waive those rights. In some situations, Illinois can also involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights, if it determines it is in the child’s best interest. A parent who has lost his or her rights is no longer entitled to parenting time or decision-making powers. If both parents have lost their rights, the child is eligible for adoption by another adult. However, parents can go to court to contest the termination of their rights. Illinois courts will likely prefer maintaining a parent’s rights unless specific circumstances are met.

Fitness

A case for terminating a parent’s rights starts with the claim that the parent is unfit. Illinois law lists several factors that can make a parent unfit, including:

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Celebrating Your First Post-Divorce Father's DayJune 18 marks the annual celebration of Father’s Day in the U.S. While it is usually a time for fathers and their children to bond, a newly divorced father may experience the holiday differently. Depending on the parenting time arrangement, his children may be unavailable to visit him that day. If he does get to spend the day with them, he may not know how to celebrate. Past Father’s Day traditions may have relied on the mother’s involvement. Divorced fathers need to take an active role in creating a positive Father’s Day experience for them and their children.

Save the Date

You should talk to your former wife about your desire to spend Father’s Day with your children, especially if it would require altering your parenting time schedule. Parenting time agreements are legally binding, but parents can make minor adjustments without needing court approval. Hopefully, your former wife will appreciate the day’s importance to you and your children. However, you can also help with scheduling by being flexible:

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Recognizing Different Parenting Time ViolationsWhen a court rules on parenting time as part of the allocation of parental responsibilities, it is a legally enforceable court order. A parent who violates the agreement may face criminal and civil consequences, including:

  • Fines;
  • Scheduling make-up parenting time for the other parent;
  • Payment of a cash bond to insure against future violations;
  • Probation;
  • Driver's license suspension; and
  • Up to a year in prison after a third offense.

Abuse of parenting time unlawfully reduces the amount of time one parent gets to spend with his or her children. There are multiple methods that parents can use to violate a parenting time agreement.

Withholding Children

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Proving Emotional Abuse When Determining Allocation of Parental ResponsibilitiesThe legal definition of domestic abuse is not limited to physical attacks. A spouse or parent can verbally abuse others through harassing and demeaning behavior. Examples of emotional abuse include:

  • Insults;
  • Foul Language;
  • Threats;
  • Intimidation; and
  • Words meant to humiliate or isolate someone.

During a divorce, one parent may argue that the other parent is abusive and should have limited time with their children. Even without a criminal conviction, the court can consider a parent’s abusive nature in determining the allocation of parental responsibilities. However, emotional abuse is more abstract than physical abuse because there are no visible injuries. You must plan how you will present your evidence in order to prove that your spouse is emotionally abusive.

Evaluations

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174

 630-584-4800

 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187

 630-407-1777

Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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