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What Circumstances Make a Parent “Unfit” in Illinois?

Posted on in Divorce

Western Springs child custody attorney

Illinois courts make all child-related decisions based on the child’s best interests. Unfortunately, it is sometimes in a child’s best interest not to spend time with one of his or her parents. If a mother or a father cannot adequately protect a child’s safety or provide for the child’s basic needs, that parent may be declared an “unfit” parent. This means that the court may place restrictions on some or all of the parental rights, including parenting time. If you have reason to believe that parental fitness may be a consideration in your child-related legal dispute, speak to an experienced divorce attorney to receive the personalized guidance you need for a favorable outcome.

Establishing Parental Fitness

The question of parental fitness is often brought up during child custody disputes. If evidence shows that a parent is unfit, he or she may no longer be permitted to share in decision-making responsibility for the child, and restrictions may be placed on his or her parenting time. A range of issues can bring a parent’s fitness into question, but courts typically consider a parent to be unfit if one or more of the following elements are present:

  • Physical, psychological, or sexual abuse

  • Severe cruelty

  • Substantial neglect

  • Failure to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, or shelter despite having the ability to do so

  • Abandonment

  • Absence of concern for the child’s safety or failure to protect the child from danger

  • Conviction of certain violent and sex-based criminal offenses

  • Significant substance abuse problems

  • Mental impairment that prevents the parent from fulfilling essential parental responsibilities

Restricting Parenting Time or Parental Responsibilities

If the court finds that a parent has endangered a child’s well-being or is otherwise unfit, there are several actions that may be taken. In some cases, the parent may only be allowed to see his or her child under supervision. If alcohol or drug addiction is an issue, the parent may be prohibited from possessing or consuming drugs or alcohol during his or her assigned parenting time and immediately preceding the parenting time. Parents who have substance abuse problems may also be required to complete a treatment program before being allowed to regain full parental rights. In extreme cases, a parent may lose the ability to enjoy parenting time with his or her child altogether.

Contact a Cook County Child Custody Lawyer

Every child deserves to be safe and adequately cared for. If you have reason to believe that your child’s other parent is unfit, or if your own parental fitness has been called into question, contact the accomplished legal team at Botti Marinaccio, LTD. We will help you understand your legal options under Illinois law, and we will work with you to establish a child custody arrangement that serves your child’s best interests. Call us today at 630-575-8585 to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Oak Brook divorce attorney at our firm.


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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.


2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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