What Factors Make a Parent “Unfit” in an Illinois Child Custody Case?
In Illinois, child custody is now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities. Regardless if a married couple with children was married and decided to divorce or they never tied the knot, they must determine who is going to care for their kids in the future. Typically, Illinois courts favor both parents staying involved in their child’s life after a divorce or a breakup if they were unmarried. However, there are situations where one parent may be abusive or neglects to properly care for his or her children. In these cases, a parent may be deemed unfit by a judge and his or her custody terminated involuntarily.
Terminating Parental Rights
Unless there is convincing evidence, rarely will an Illinois court terminate a parent’s rights completely. The court needs actual proof that the other parent’s actions (or inactions) are negatively affecting the kids. Proof of unfitness may include photographs or videos showing abuse, medical records illustrating injuries due to an unsafe environment, police reports, and electronic communication such as text or email messages and social media posts. Even if a parent is deemed unfit, he or she is usually given certain parental rights, albeit very limited.
The state of Illinois can deem a parent unfit if they exhibit any of the following behaviors:
- Alcohol or drug addiction
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Mental illness or disorder
- Putting the children in danger
- Being incarcerated
- Disregard for the children’s well-being
- Neglectful actions
Just because one parent wishes to terminate the other parent’s rights does not mean that will happen. In some cases, a bitter or vengeful spouse may try to paint the other spouse as a bad parent when in fact that is based on false information. The court will weigh all factors when deciding if modifying parental responsibilities is in the children’s best interests. This means a judge will carefully consider if the children’s physical, mental, and emotional needs are being met by each parent.
Contact an Arlington Heights Family Lawyer
A divorce can sometimes bring out the worst in someone, or it may reveal a spouse’s true colors. If you feel that your child’s other parent may be unfit to care for your child, or you feel that you have been wrongfully deemed unfit yourself, seek professional legal counsel as soon as possible. At The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, we are committed to protecting your parental rights during and after your Illinois divorce. Call our highly qualified Barrington family law attorney today at 847.873.6741 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.