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Determining Parental Fitness in Illinois

Posted on in Child Custody

Lombard family lawyerGenerally, Illinois courts do not have any interest in taking children away from their natural parents without immediate and pressing reasons to do so. However, when a parent’s fitness is called into question, obviously, due diligence must be performed lest children remain in harmful and dangerous situations. If you have been accused of being an unfit parent, it is important for you to understand what that means so you may best defend against it.

Statutory Criteria

Every state has its own definition of “unfit.” In Illinois, the guidelines can be found in the Illinois Adoption Act which sets out the criteria a judge may use to declare that a parent falls into that status. An unfit parent is defined in Illinois as someone who can objectively be found to not have the child or children’s best interests at heart. This can be shown by a lengthy list of considerations contained in the statute. Some of the more common concerns include abandonment, neglect, demonstrable cruelty toward the child, a lack of interest or responsibility, substance abuse, or addiction.

Certain risk factors for unfitness come with a rebuttable presumption of unfitness from the beginning. In other words, if you have engaged in certain behaviors, you will be declared unfit unless you can prove you are not by clear and convincing evidence. The most common is depravity, as shown by being convicted of a particularly concerning crime—sexual assault, for example. If a parent has been convicted of three felonies, the presumption will also apply.

Termination Hearings

Depending on the specific situation, it may be the state itself that will attempt to terminate your parental rights. If this is the case, the proceedings will take place in juvenile court. They state must advise you of this proceeding, and if you want to contest the termination, you are entitled to have an attorney working on your behalf.

It is important to remember that termination is not a criminal conviction, nor is it necessarily a reflection on you as a person. It is not uncommon for parental rights to be terminated because designated goals have not been met—for example, failing to follow the recommendations of a social worker or refusing professional assistance. The best interests of your children must come first before most extenuating circumstances on your behalf. On many occasions, your interests and your child’s will coincide, but not always.

A Child Custody Attorney Can Help

Having one’s fitness to parent questioned can be a terrifying ordeal. If you are currently going through this frightening process, contact an experienced Lombard family lawyer for guidance. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation at A. Traub & Associates today. We will help you protect your rights as well as those of your child.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2098&ChapterID=59

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=075000500K1

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