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Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights in Illinois

Posted on in Child Custody

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.


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:

  • Abandonment;
  • Failing to visit or contact the child for 12 months;
  • Repeated neglect;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Habitual substance abuse by the parent;
  • Child exposure to controlled substances;
  • Creating an unsafe living environment;
  • Mental illness or disability;
  • Incarceration; and
  • Disinterest in the child’s welfare.

If a parent is deemed unfit, either the other parent will receive greater allocation of parental responsibilities or the child will be placed in the care of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services.


Being an unfit parent does not automatically lead to a parent losing his or her rights. Parents are given time to prove that they can change their behavior. Illinois commonly seeks involuntary termination of parental rights after a child has been in the foster care system for 15 of 22 months. However, the state may expedite the process if the parent:

  • Has been convicted of murder or attempted murder;
  • Has a history of abusing or sexually assaulting children;
  • Is incapacitated and unlikely to recover; or
  • Has already lost parental rights to another child.



When Illinois holds a hearing on terminating a parent’s rights, the parent can claim that terminating the rights goes against the child’s best interest. Arguments may include:

  • The parent would be more involved in the child’s life if not for incarceration;
  • A relative is caring for the child;
  • The state has not made an effort to reunite the parent with the child; and
  • No one else is ready to assume the parental rights of the child.

Maintaining Parental Rights

A parent who has lost his or her rights can petition to have them reinstated, but he or she will need to provide convincing evidence. A Kane County family law attorney at Goostree Law Group will defend your parental rights form being involuntarily terminated. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

Source: of State laws

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