After your divorce, it may seem as if your ex no longer wants to be a parent. They may blow off their share of parenting time, giving excuses for their absenteeism week after week. Or, they might comment that they would forfeit their parental rights if it meant getting out of their child support obligation. While you may want to petition to terminate their parental rights, you must understand whether Illinois courts will allow you to.
How Illinois approaches parental rights
In general, Illinois courts presume that children of divorce benefit from having relationships with both parents. Unless your situation is exceptional, they will dismiss any attempt you make to terminate your ex’s parental rights. Yet, your ex may routinely miss visits with your children or fail to make child support payments. In these cases, you can petition the court to enforce your parenting plan and child support order. By taking this route, you can hold your ex accountable for their parental responsibilities, no matter their attempts to resist them.
Exceptions to Illinois’ approach
You may have remarried after your divorce, and your current spouse might want to adopt your children as their own. They may be committed to playing an active role in your children’s lives, whereas your ex may have demonstrated that they are an unfit parent. In this case, the adoption process can facilitate the transfer of parental rights. So long as your ex consents to your current spouse’s adoption, they will lose their parental rights in the process. If they do not, you will have to prove they are an unfit parent in court.
If your children are juveniles, your ex could also lose their parental rights if they have a history of neglect or abuse. Yet, the state – based on guidance from its Department of Children and Family Services – must bring forth any case against them. You cannot petition for the termination of your ex’s parental rights on your own.