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Rockford Divorce Lawyer James Teeter

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Parental Rights Lawyer for Voluntary and Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Illinois parental rights can be terminated on a voluntarily or involuntarily basis, including under the following circumstances:

  • Voluntary consent to adoption;
  • Voluntary surrender of parental rights;
  • A finding by an Illinois family court that a parent is “unfit”;
  • A finding by the court that an alleged father is not a biological or adoptive father of a child; or
  • A finding that a child was fathered as a result of criminal sexual abuse or assault.

As an experienced Illinois parental rights attorney, James Teeter, Jr. has zealously advocated for individuals in voluntary termination matters and parents opposing involuntary terminations of parental rights for over a decade. If you would like to surrender your parental rights voluntarily or need assistance opposing an involuntary termination, we invite you to call our office to schedule a free consultation. At Rockford Family Law, we can listen to the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and zealously advocate in seeking a favorable outcome.

Termination of Parental Rights FAQs

Despite court and family efforts, there are situations when it is in a child’s best interests to have the legal rights of a parent terminated. For example, a court may find that a parent is unfit as the result of child abuse, severe drug or alcohol problems, or other matters.

Because of the severity of parental rights termination cases, unfitness is taken very seriously by Illinois Courts, meaning a parent cannot simply accuse the other parent of being unfit. Instead, they must take certain steps within specific courts. Parental rights can only be terminated in conjunction with an adoption matter or a juvenile case initiated by the state.[1]

 [1] 750 ILCS 50/1.

Termination of parental rights frequently arises in adoption cases in which a biological parent has remarried, and the new spouse would like to adopt the child. Under these circumstances, the biological parent seeking the adoption must prove that the other parent is unfit based on one of the grounds discussed below, or the biological parent must relinquish their parental rights.

Conversely, if a step-parent is unwilling to adopt a child, the state of Illinois may initiate a juvenile case to terminate the rights of a neglectful or abusive parent based on unfitness. However, it is critical to note that this type of case cannot be initiated by the other parent.

Under Illinois Law, a parent can be determined to be unfit on any one or more of the following grounds:

  • Intentional abandonment of a child;
  • Failure to maintain interest or responsibility as to a child’s welfare;
  • Desertion of a child for more than three months;
  • Substantial neglect (if continuous or repeated);
  • Extreme or repeated cruelty to a child;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Conviction of certain crimes, such as murder or sexual assault;
  • Habitual substance abuse;
  • Failure to protect a child from environmental conditions that are injurious to a child’s welfare; or
  • Mental impairment or illness that impedes an individual from discharging parental responsibilities.[1]

In an unfitness hearing, the burden of proof lies with the party seeking to show that the parent is unfit. To prevail, such party must provide clear and convincing evidence of unfitness.

[1] 750 ILCS 50/1.

If a parent objects to a petition for termination of parental rights, they have the opportunity to provide evidence demonstrating they have taken an interest in their child’s life.  A parent whom an unfitness claim is being made is entitled to counter a claim of lack or reasonable interest or abandonment by providing proof that he or she has:

  • attempted to foster a relationship with the child,
  • been paying child support;
  • attempted to visit and/or correspond with the child; or
  • been unable to maintain an interest in the child due to interference from the other parent.

Schedule A Free, Confidential Consultation With An Experienced Illinois Parental Rights Termination Lawyer.

If you are concerned that your child’s other parent is unfit or would like to refute allegations that you are an unfit parent, we invite you to call Rockford Family Law to schedule a free and private consultation with experienced parental rights attorney James Teeter, Jr. He can review your claims and explain your legal options for pursuing the best outcome possible.

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Attorney James O. Teeter, Jr. speaking with client. Attorney James O. Teeter, Jr. speaking with client.

Family Law Attorney James O. Teeter Jr.
With 25+ Years of Legal Experience
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$199 CONSULTATION

(1.5 Hrs.) One Hour for $199 + 30-Minutes FREE with No-Obligation | In-Person, by Zoom or by Phone
In-Depth Discussion of Your Specific Situation and Potential Strategy | Or

Type of Case:
Illinois County:
Please enter a number from 0 to 21.

Submission of information through the contact form does not create an attorney-client relationship, so please do not submit any confidential information. If we are to serve as your attorneys, all fees and the nature of our representation will be set forth in a written agreement.