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When Can Parental Rights Be Terminated in Illinois?

Posted on in Divorce

Cook County family law attorney parenting time

Being a parent is a tremendous responsibility. Being a parent also affords individuals certain rights under Illinois law. For example, a parent has a right to “parenting time” or the right to spend time with his or her child. However, there are situations in which a parent’s parental rights can be terminated. Some parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights while others have their parental rights involuntarily terminated because they are found to be “unfit.”

Voluntary Relinquishment

Children can only have two parents according to Illinois law. If an individual such as a stepparent wishes to become a child’s legal parent, the other parent may need to relinquish his or her parental rights. Once a parent has relinquished his or her parental rights, he or she no longer has a right to parenting time or the right to make decisions about his or her child’s upbringing. The parent is also relieved of child support obligations. Illinois courts always make child-related determinations based on what is in the child’s best interests. Courts generally assume that a child should have financial support from two parents instead of only one. Therefore, courts typically only grant a voluntary relinquishment of parental rights if another individual is prepared to adopt the child.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

A parent’s parental rights may be terminated without the parent’s consent in some situations. The most common way that this occurs is when the parent is deemed “unfit.” A parent may be judged to be unfit to parent during an adoption case or a juvenile case instigated by the state. Numerous grounds may be used to establish a parent’s unfitness, including:

  • Physical abuse

  • Repeated neglect

  • Abandonment

  • Lack of reasonable concern for or interest in the child’s life

  • Severe, repeated cruelty to the child

  • Conviction of certain violent criminal offenses  

  • Mental illness or cognitive impairment that prevents the parent from being able to carry out parenting responsibilities

  • Substance abuse problems

  • Failing to provide the child with basic necessities despite having the means to do so

It is important to note that terminating a parent’s parental rights is not the only way to restrict a parent’s parenting time or decision-making authority. If you are a divorcing or unmarried parent and you are concerned about your child spending time with the other parent, you may petition the court to restrict the other parent’s parenting time. The court may reduce or eliminate parenting time or parental responsibilities, require supervised parenting time, or establish other orders needed to protect the child’s well-being.

Contact a Hinsdale Parental Rights Lawyer

The Cook County family law attorneys at Botti Marinaccio, LTD are well versed in parental rights concerns. If you want to petition the court for termination of the other parent’s rights or if you want to protect your own parental rights from being terminated, our skilled team can provide the legal guidance you need. Call our office today at 630-575-8585 for a confidential consultation.




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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.


2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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