When Can Parental Rights Be Terminated?

Child custody and child support are often extremely contentious issues, and tensions can be made even worse when a parent chooses not to live up to his or her obligations under the custody or support orders.

Frustrated parents often ask whether they can have the other parent’s rights to a child or children terminated in order to be done with the problem once and for all. Here we explain when parental rights can be terminated.

Terminating Parental Rights through Adoption

Parental rights are terminated in adoption cases. In these cases, the state allows parents to give up their parental rights and responsibilities because someone else will be stepping in and taking over those rights and responsibilities, so as to ensure the child’s well-being. You may be able to use adoption as a way of terminating parental rights if:

  • The other parent wants to give up his or her parental rights;
  • You are married; and
  • Your new spouse is willing to make the transition from step-parent to adoptive parent.

If you go through this process, then you and your child’s adoptive parent will be the child’s parents from that point on as far as the law is concerned. Hence, you cannot later change your mind and try to get child support from the child’s biological parent who has had his or her rights terminated.

If the parent whose rights you would like to have terminated does not agree to the adoption, then you must be able to show that he or she is an “unfit” parent in order to have his or her rights terminated. You may be able to prove this by showing that the parent has abandoned the child, has failed to show a reasonable degree of interest in the child or a reasonable amount of concern or responsibility for the child’s welfare, has deserted or neglected the child, or has been extremely cruel to the child.

Can Parental Rights be Terminated if Adoption is Not a Possibility?

If adoption is not a possibility, then you will likely not be able to have the other parent’s rights terminated. The government wants to hold two people responsible for the care of a child if at all possible. Therefore, when lower-income single parents seek state assistance to raise their children, the state may first force them to seek child support from the child’s other parent.

Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.

If you are struggling to get your child’s other parent to live up to his or her child support or child custody obligations, you need the help of skilled Illinois family law lawyers. Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. at 630-665-7676. We will help you figure out the best plan to enforce your rights and your child’s rights, and hold your child’s other parent responsible.