Illinois Family Law: Termination of Parental Rights

Rincker Law Family/Matrimonial Law Leave a Comment

A parent very rarely completely loses parental rights altogether; however, it does happen.  The court has to find that the parent is unfit to terminate parental rights. 750 ILCS 50/1.    Instances where parental rights were terminated include the following examples (case citations are provided):

  • People v. Ferrell, Ill.App.3d 1110 (4th 2002)-Mother’s parental rights terminated where mother had chronic schizophrenia that had been present for over 10 years and she had suicide attempts, erratic behavior, and difficulties communicating.
  • In re Marriage of Woppel, 178 Ill.App.3d 781 (1st 1989)-Father’s parental rights terminated where he sexually molested his five-year-old daughter.
  • In re D.M., 336 Ill.App.3d 766 (1st 2002)-Mother’s parental rights terminated where the children were in foster care and she failed to do complete any services towards reunification, exposed them to a drug-environment, and failed to maintain regular contact and only visited sporadically.
  • In re G.L., 329 Ill.App.3d 18 (1st 2002)-Mother’s parental rights terminated where she did not visit her five kids for over two years before the termination hearing. One of the factors considered in terminating parental rights is the parent having little interest or concern for the child, including not visiting the child for an extended period of time.  To determine this, the court considers the parent’s efforts to visit and maintain contact with the child in light of certain circumstances such as difficulty in obtaining transportation, poverty, actions and statements of others that hinder visitation, and the need to resolve other life issues are relevant.  See In re B’yata I., 2014 IL App (2d) 130558-B, 149 (2nd Dist. 2014).  Thus, the courts must consider, though, the parent’s reasonable efforts and any circumstances that may have made it difficult. In re J.B., 2014 IL App (1st) 140773 (1st Dist. 2014).

Courts are tasked with keeping children safe, unfortunately more often than not, from their own parents.  Since terminating parental rights is such an extreme safeguard, courts only do it in specific circumstances, exemplified above.  If you are worried that your lack of contact with your child(ren) will put you in jeopardy of having your parental rights terminated, you should consult an attorney immediately.

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