Can I Have My Parental Rights Restored?
In juvenile court, it is sadly not uncommon for parental rights to be terminated if doing so is deemed to be in the best interests of their children. Parents with a history of violence or substance abuse problems, among others, may be deemed unfit. However, the system does not always shut the door irrevocably. If a parent is able to demonstrate that he or she has changed and that it would now be in the best interest of the child to allow the parent to have time with the child, there may be a way to get it.
Each State Has Its Own Laws
Most states do not permit restoration of parental rights in any but the most unusual cases. Illinois is one of nine states that does have a procedure to restore parental rights in certain situations; the other 41 generally do not. The general prevailing view is that certain faults can be corrected if proof of a significant change in circumstances is shown.
Illinois permits reinstatement of parental rights—assuming all requirements are met—based on the wishes of a child who wants to re-establish family ties with a particular parent. The state does its best to balance the competing interests of the citizen’s right to parent with the best interests and well-being of minor children. It is because of this that courts are generally more favorable to reinstatement requests if children are either near adulthood or have already reached that milestone.
The most important thing to be aware of regarding this question is that in Illinois, it is not possible for you to file for reinstatement unilaterally. The law states that only two entities may file for reinstatement of parental rights: the minor in question and the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS). The petition may not be filed any sooner than three years after the termination of parental rights, and reinstatement may only be granted if all the requirements enumerated in the law are met without exception.
The requirements one must meet in order to even be considered for reinstatement of rights are quite strict, and many parents fail. The law provides that a motion for reinstatement may only be filed when all of the conditions it sets forth are met, including:
- That the minor was either signed over for adoption or their parents’ rights were terminated by order of the relevant court;
- That the minor is a ward of the court, even if he or she was not at one time;
- That the minor’s current placement is not intended to be permanent or will likely not end up being permanent;
- That the child is aged 13 years or older;
- That it is demonstrably in the child’s best interests to have their parent or parents’ rights reinstated; and
- That the parent is both willing to have his or her rights reinstated and “appropriate” to have them reinstated, meaning that he or she has significantly improved his or her circumstances, such as beating a substance abuse addiction, and are able to show proof.
All these criteria must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. If even one fails, the petition will likely be denied. The stakes involved are simply too high.
Seek Experienced Advice
If you are in a position where you may be able to have your parental rights reinstated, it is important to fully understand the process. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney to discuss your situation. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation today.