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Parental Rights and the Illinois Adoption Act

Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneysIndividuals and couples who are interested in adopting children obviously are advised to take the time to familiarize themselves with the Illinois Adoption Act (IAA) However, there are other areas of law in which the IAA can provide valuable input. One of the most common is when a parent or couple’s parental rights are at issue, especially when deciding whether or not a parent or parents should keep their parental rights. The IAA can provide guidance on such issues.

The Concept of Unfitness

Normally, Illinois courts prefer that if one or both of a child’s birth parents is to lose their parental rights, there should be another person able to step into the parental role. The state works very diligently to ensure that children have two parents as often as possible. The one rare occasion in which this does not always happen is when a parent is declared unfit under the Adoption Act. In these unusual instances, it is deemed more important to remove a child from a potentially dangerous situation. Sometimes, however, even if a parent is found unfit, their parental rights will not be terminated unless someone else is willing to adopt the child.

Under the Adoption Act, proceedings to demonstrate unfitness must be initiated by the court, though the other parent may request such action based on a showing of necessity. If parents were permitted to unilaterally institute proceedings against one another, this could be used to unfairly discriminate or railroad. There are multiple reasons why a parent might be found unfit, from neglect to outright physical abuse to simply wishing to abandon their rights, but the specific reason does not matter as much as the effects on the child.  

Terminating Your Rights

If your rights are potentially going to be terminated under the IAA, you need to be aware that you do have some standing to rebut the court’s findings in most circumstances, especially if the allegations against you relate to alleged disinterest in your child’s life. Presenting evidence that shows you to be an involved parent, or at least attempting to, can make a significant difference in your case.

On the other hand, if you believe that you cannot adequately support a child, you may be able to voluntarily terminate your parental rights using the Adoption Act’s tenets to support such a statement. Again, this will be more likely to happen if there is another person able to step in—a stepparent, for example, who wishes to adopt your child following the (re)marriage of your former partner. This decision cannot and should not be undertaken lightly, however; the IAA does not permit you to revoke your consent to the adoption once it is given. If you voluntarily terminate your parental rights, you will almost certainly never get them back.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

The Adoption Act provides a framework under which children can be protected, but if one is not well versed in its provision, it is possible to lose your parental rights. If you need help keeping or surrendering your parental rights, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney at A. Traub & Associates. We will work hard on your behalf no matter what types of challenges you may be facing.

 

Source:

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

https://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/aboutus/notices/Documents/CFS_403-C_Birth_Parents_Rights_and_Responsibilities_in_Illinois.pdf


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