In this article, we discuss expedited termination of parental rights in Illinois and answer the following questions:
- What circumstances prompt expedited termination of parental rights in Illinois?
- What factors are important when considering expediting termination of parental rights?
- What happens if a termination-of-parental-rights-proceeding is unsuccessful?
- Can a parent be found unfit but not have their parental rights terminated?
What Circumstances Prompt Expedited Termination of Parental Rights In Illinois?
Termination of parental rights may be sought by the court for any number of reasons, but the State of Illinois understands there are certain circumstances within cases that necessitate expedited termination of parental rights in the best interest and safety of the child. These circumstances include:
- The child or sibling of the child was abandoned;
- The child or sibling of the child was tortured;
- The child or sibling of the child was chronically abused;
- The parent was convicted of first or second degree murder of any child;
- The parent was convicted of any attempt or conspiracy to commit first or second degree murder of a child;
- The parent was convicted of aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, or solicitation to commit second degree murder of a child;
- If the parental right of the parent(s) over a sibling were involuntarily terminated;
- If the parent suddenly becomes incapacitated and unable to care for the child and the prognosis of the parent is poor;
- The minor has been in foster care for a total of 15 months over the last 22 months; or
- If a minor under 24 months old has been previously determined to be abandoned at an adjudicatory hearing.
What Factors Are Important When Considering Expediting Termination of Parental Rights?
Including the above listed circumstances, factors the court will take into consideration when determining expediting termination of parental rights include:
- Is the child being cared for by a relative?
- DCFS has determined through its investigation that filing a petition for termination of parental rights would not be in the child’s best interest;
- The court finds that DCFS has failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the child with his or her family over the last 12 months;
- For an incarcerated parent the court will consider the best interests of the child, the parent’s attempts at communication and fostering a positive relationship with the child, and the parent’s limitations to access family support programs that would otherwise serve to improve the relationship between the incarcerated parent and child.
What Happens if a Termination-Of-Parental-Rights Proceeding Is Unsuccessful?
The state can file another motion for termination of parental rights at a later date. There are a handful of windows during which motions for termination of parental rights can be filed in a given case. The new motion must include a different reason alleging unfitness as a parent, facts proving the parents unfitness, and must notify the parent that his or her parental rights are at stake.
Can A Parent Be Found Unfit But Not Have Their Parental Rights Terminated?
It is possible for a parent to be found unfit, but for the court to determine that termination of parental rights is not in the best interest of the child at that time. This is an unusual scenario and typically does not last for a long period of time. The state may seek to have the parental rights terminated at a later date and will not have to prove again that the parent is unfit unless circumstances have changed significantly.