Terminating a Parent’s Rights
While many parents would like to be able to simply end their ex’s right to be in their children’s lives, it is not possible in Illinois to do so unilaterally. Terminating a parent’s rights in Illinois is a process that requires the involvement of both parents in most cases, and in some situations, it can get extraordinarily complex. It is imperative, for the sake of your children, to ensure you understand the process before trying to assert your parental rights over those of their current caregivers.
When Can Rights Be Terminated?
In Illinois, there are very limited occasions on which a parent’s rights may be terminated. According to current law, there are only two: either in a case under the Adoption Act or in a juvenile court case. This may seem extreme, but Illinois legislators and courts have been firm in asserting that children benefit more from having both parents in their lives, unless the parent has been convicted of offenses that would signify their posing a danger to the child in question.
Adoption Act terminations of parental rights are more often voluntary than those obtained in juvenile court cases. A child’s biological parents must relinquish their parental rights in order for the child to be adopted, a process that gives the adoptive parents their parental rights. In these situations, the court usually prefers to not terminate parental rights unless two people are to step into the place of the biological parent—usually a married or committed couple. In juvenile court cases, parental rights are terminated in one of two ways—either due to documented abuse of the minor children or voluntarily by the parents if they believe their child would be better off as a ward of the state.
What If a Parent Objects?
If a parent objects to the attempted termination of their parental rights, in almost all situations they do have the right to present evidence to show to that they have a role in their child’s life. Examples of evidence that are usually accepted include proof of a willingness to pay child support, communications with the child, and rearranging plans or obligations in order to spend time with their child. Such evidence does not guarantee that a termination petition will be rejected, but it can be persuasive. One of the few actual defenses to a termination petition is to show that the parent seeking termination has been interfering with the relationship between the other parent and the child. These actions are referred to as parenting time or visitation interference, and can be punishable with criminal penalties or fines if the offense is egregious enough.
Seek Professional Assistance
If you are the subject of a petition to terminate parental rights, you need a lawyer on your side who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates for help. Call 630-232-9700 today.