Being a parent is a challenging and rewarding responsibility, but what happens when a parent fails to meet their responsibilities toward their child? Unfortunately, this is a challenge that many families face, and it can be emotionally draining for everyone involved. In some cases, terminating a parent's rights may be the best option for the child's well-being.
However, the process of terminating a parent's rights is not a cut-and-dried process, and it's important to understand the legal requirements and procedures involved. If you're in Illinois and considering terminating parental rights, you can get in touch with our experienced family law lawyers to guide you through the process and ensure that all of your rights are protected.
What is the Termination of Parental Rights?
Termination of parental rights is a legal process that ends the legal relationship between a parent and their child. When a parent's rights are terminated, they are no longer responsible for the child's care, and they lose all legal rights to make decisions about the child's upbringing.
This could include rights for parenting time, decision-making power, and child support obligations. This process can be voluntary, where a parent agrees to relinquish their rights, or involuntary, where a court terminates a parent's rights without their consent. An experienced family lawyer can help you understand the legal repercussions of both.
Notably, for the 2020 fiscal year, a total of 63,800 parental rights were formally terminated in the US - lower than the 71,900 cases in 2019. This notwithstanding, parenting rights termination continues to remain an important area of family law.
Reasons for Termination in Illinois
The termination of parental rights is a serious matter, and it's not something that should be taken lightly. In Illinois, the state will only terminate a parent's rights if it's in the best interests of the child. There is a myriad of reasons why a court may terminate a parent's rights, including:
- Persistent neglect or substantial neglect
- Physical child abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse of the child
- Failure by the parent to protect the child from conditions that could endanger their welfare
- Abandonment of the child
- Habitual drunkenness or drug addiction
- Mental impairment that makes the legal parent unable to care for the child
- Being convicted of a felony that involves a child or any other evidence of abuse
- Being declared a depraved person
- Failure to pay child support for more than one year
- Failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern, or parenting responsibility for the child's welfare
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
In some cases, a parent may voluntarily choose to terminate their parental rights. This may happen in extreme circumstances where the parent feels that they are unable to provide the care and support that their child needs or where they wish to give the child up for adoption. To voluntarily terminate parental rights in Illinois, the parent must provide written consent, and the court will only grant the termination if it is in the best interests of the child.
Requirements for Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights in Illinois:
To voluntarily terminate parental rights in Illinois, the following requirements must be met:
- The biological parent must be informed of their legal rights and the consequences of their decision
- The parent must give their consent voluntarily and in writing
- The parent must not be under duress or coercion when providing their consent
- The parent must have undergone counseling to ensure that they understand the implications of their decision
- The court must find that termination is in the child's best interests
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
In Illinois, parental rights may be involuntarily terminated if the parent is found to be unfit or unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities. Under normal circumstances, this process is initiated by filing a motion for termination with the court.
Requirements for Involuntary Termination in Illinois
To involuntarily terminate parental rights in Illinois, the following requirements must be met:
- The parent must be served with a notice of the termination proceedings
- The parent will have an opportunity to present their case before the court
- The court must find that parental rights should be terminated by clear and convincing evidence
- The court must find that termination is in the best interests of the child
Grounds for Involuntary Termination in Illinois
In Illinois, the court can terminate a parent's rights if they are found to be unfit or unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities. These include:
- Abandonment: If a biological parent has abandoned the child for an extended period of time, their parental rights may be terminated.
- Mental Illness or Impairment: If a parent has a mental illness or impairment that renders them unable to care for the child, their parental rights may be terminated.
- Unfit Parent: If a parent is found to be unfit due to persistent neglect or other factors, their parental rights may be terminated.
- Failure to Support: If a parent has failed to provide adequate financial or emotional support for the child, their parental rights may be terminated.
Final Steps to Legally End Parental Rights:
Once the court has determined that a parent's rights should be terminated, there are a few final steps to legally end parental rights. These include:
Filing an Order of Termination
Once the court has determined that parental rights should be terminated, the order must be filed with the court. But it should be noted that this will be done after a motion or petition has been filed at the court and a hearing conducted upon which the Judge can evaluate the evidence and make the final decision.
Updating the Birth Certificate
If a parent's rights are terminated, their name will need to be removed from the child's birth certificate.
Notifying Government Agencies
Any government agencies or organizations that have an interest in the child, such as social security or healthcare, must be notified of the termination.
It's important to note that terminating a parent's rights does not absolve them of their child support obligations. Even after parental rights have been terminated, a parent may still be required to pay child support payments until the child reaches the age of majority or is emancipated.
How to File for Involuntary or Voluntary Termination in DuPage County
If you are seeking to terminate parental rights in DuPage County, Illinois, the process can be complicated and overwhelming. It's important to seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights and the best interests of the child are protected.
To file for involuntary or voluntary termination of parental rights in Dupage County, you must first obtain the necessary forms from the county courthouse. Once the forms are completed, as an additional step, they must be filed with the court and served on all parties involved. A hearing will be scheduled where evidence will be presented and arguments will be made.
Call Tommalieh Law Today!
If you are facing the challenging issue of terminating a parent's rights in Illinois, it's important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. At Tommalieh Law, our divorce attorneys, have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through this difficult process and ensure that your rights and the best interests of your child are protected. Contact us today at 708-232-0017 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you.