The legal standards governing loss of parental rights

If an Illinois child is determined to be in a bad situation with their parents, the child often will go to live with relatives or be placed in foster care. In certain extreme situations, however, this may not be thought to be enough. Authorities may choose to terminate a parent’s parental rights to their child. This blog post will discuss this in a little more detail.

Parents have a large number of rights and responsibilities with respect to their children. They can make decisions about the child’s education, health care, religion and other basic concerns. There are situations where a court can take away these rights from a parent, however. These include abandonment, abuse or neglect of the child or of other children in the household, sexual abuse, long-term mental illness of the parent, long-term incapacity of the parent due to addiction, failure to support or maintain contact, and involuntary termination of the rights of the parent to another child.

There is a higher burden of proof for termination cases than for most civil court cases. Courts can terminate parental rights only if clear and convincing evidence exists to do so. This is a more rigorous standard than the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard that exists in most civil cases. It is a lower burden, however, than the standard for criminal cases.

After a parent experiences the loss of parental rights, it may be possible to restore them. A parent can file a petition to argue that they now can provide a safe and nurturing home for their child. A court could grant the petition if it finds it to be in the best interests of the child.

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