March 24, 2016

Grounds For The Termination of Parental Rights

Child Custody
Grounds For The Termination of Parental Rights





Although unfortunate, situations exist in which a child would benefit from terminating contact with one the child’s parents. Most commonly, many mothers believe that the child’s best interests would be served by termination of the father’s parental rights so the mothers’ new spouse may adopt the child.

By terminating the parental rights, the parent whose rights were terminated forfeits all legal responsibility for the child. Consequently, the parent loses the right to make decisions concerning the child and the right to visitation or parenting time. In addition, the parent no longer owes a support obligation to the child. Ultimately, if the court terminates the parental rights, that parent no longer has legal ties to the child.

Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights is a significant step to take concerning a child because it means severing the relationship between a parent and a child, even if the relationship is not a good one. The Illinois Adoption Act governs termination of parental rights. Under this law, the court may terminate parental rights as part of an adoption (e.g., a child’s step father seeks to adopt the child in place of the child’s biological father) or as part of a juvenile case brought by the state (e.g., cases of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment by the parent). When the court grants termination of the parent’s parental rights, the parent loses his or her parental rights to the child and a new parent may adopt the child.

Termination of parental rights requires the court to engage in a two-part analysis:

  1. Whether the court finds the parent unfit to parent the child; and
  2. Whether terminating the parent’s parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

Unfitness to Parent

Except for situations in which the child’s biological parent consents to termination of his or her parental rights so a stepparent can formally adopt the child, the termination of parental rights requires a demonstration that the parent is unfit to be a parent to the child by clear and convincing evidence under 705/ILCS 405/2-29(2). A number of different grounds for the termination of parental rights exist, including but not limited to:

  • The parent is rendered unfit by mental illness or mental incapacity;
  • The parent is convicted and jailed;
  • Abandonment of the child, such as abandoning the child as a newborn at a hospital or failing to contact and visit the child for a period of 12 months;
  • Chronic neglect of the child;
  • The parent consistently fails to provide food, clothing, etc., for the child, despite the ability and means to do so; or
  • The parent physically abused the child on two or more occasions or the parent caused the death of a child by physical abuse.

Best Interests Of The Child

The best interests of the child serve as the focal point in all court cases involving children. Whether the child’s best interests would be served by removing the child from the legal purview of his or her legal parents so the child becomes eligible for adoption is a difficult to determine and as such the courts carefully focus on the best interests of the child.

Work with an Illinois Family Attorney

If you are a parent who believes the interests of your child would be best served by terminating your ex’s parental rights subsequently allowing your new spouse to adopt your child, you can contact our team of experienced family attorneys at the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group. In addition, if you are a parent worried that the State may attempt to terminate your parental rights, we can help. Please call us at (312) 445-8830 to schedule your legal consultation.





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