St. Charles Terminate Parental Rights Attorney

Kane County Family Law Firm Explains How to Terminate an Unfit Parent's Rights

Parents often have differences of opinion about the "right" or "best" way to raise their children. In most cases, however, these disagreements are not grounds to terminate a parent's rights involuntarily. Nor can a parent's rights be terminated just because that parent has been mostly uninvolved or uninterested in the child's life. Parental rights can be severed only in very limited circumstances.

At Goostree Law Group, we understand how difficult this process can be for both parents and children, particularly when one parent objects to the termination of their parental rights. Our compassionate attorneys can help you through this process.

If you are the parent seeking the termination, we can compile the necessary documentation and file a court petition to terminate parental rights. If you are the parent objecting to the termination of your rights, we will mount the best possible defense for you.

What it Means to Terminate Parental Rights

When a parent's legal relationship with a child is severed, the parent no longer has any right to spend time with the child or make decisions on behalf of the child. The parent also no longer has a responsibility to pay child support.

Who Can File for Termination of Parental Rights in Illinois

Illinois law holds that it is in a child's best interests to have two parents. The reasoning is that even an uninvolved parent can still be required to pay child support, and they could become more involved in the future. Therefore, one parent can only petition for the termination of the other parents' rights if they can clearly demonstrate parental unfitness and have another person, usually a stepparent, who is prepared to adopt the child (750 ILCS 50). The only other way to terminate parental rights is through an action brought by the state when a child has become a ward of the state due to severe abuse or neglect.

Valid Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in Illinois

An Illinois court can terminate a parent's legal rights based on any one or more of the following forms of unfitness:

  • Child abandonment or desertion, which means leaving a child without supervision and without regard for the welfare of the child.
  • Depravity, defined as conviction of a crime such as murder, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, or aggravated battery of a child. Conviction of at least three felonies, including at least one within the five years prior to the filing for termination of parental rights, can also lead to a determination of depravity.
  • Incarceration, when the parent had little or no contact with and/or provided little or no financial support for the child, and the incarceration will be for more than two years or there has been a pattern of incarceration.
  • Cruelty to or abuse of the child, when it is extreme or repeated. Two or more findings of physical abuse by a juvenile court, when supported by clear and convincing evidence, will satisfy this criterion.
  • Substantial neglect of a child that is repeated or continuous. Substantial neglect would include, for example, a failure to provide sufficient shelter, food, clothing, and education.
  • Habitual drug or alcohol abuse lasting at least one year prior to the unfitness proceeding.
  • Birth of a child with unlawful controlled substances in its body, when the mother has at least one other neglected child and the mother failed to enter a substance abuse treatment program.
  • Mental illness or impairment that makes the person unable to parent.
  • Child endangerment, that is, failing to protect the child from potentially injurious conditions.
  • Failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest in the child's welfare, which may be evidenced by not visiting or even contacting a child for some length of time, usually at least one year. Another example would be when a child has been placed in foster care, and the parent fails to take the court-ordered steps necessary to regain custody of the child.

Contact a St. Charles Termination of Parental Rights Lawyer

The attorneys of Goostree Law Group will advocate strongly for your interests in matters of child custody, divorce, family law, and criminal defense. We serve clients in the Kane County communities of St. Charles, Campton Hills, Elgin, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Elburn, Kaneville, and LaFox. Contact us at our St. Charles office at 630-584-4800 for a free consultation.

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