What is considered an unfit parent in Illinois?

In Illinois, the courts always favor keeping both parents involved in their kid’s life. However, there are cases where one parent is abusive or neglecting to take proper care of their kids. In this case, a parent may be deemed unfit, and their custody terminated involuntarily.

How do I prove the other parent is unfit?

Terminating another parent’s parental responsibilities (Illinois’ term for “custody”) is taken extremely seriously in the Illinois family courts. Without convincing evidence, a court will rarely terminate another parent’s rights entirely. Even if a parent is deemed unfit, it’s more likely they’ll be given extremely limited parental rights – not cut off completely.

If you try and terminate parental rights unfairly, the courts will not take it lightly. No matter how damaged your relationship with your spouse, parental rights can’t be used as a punishment. Even if it’s painful, it’s best for both parents to be involved in their kid’s lives if possible.

Illinois has very strict definitions of what factors constitute an unfit parent,[1] including:

  • Abandonment
  • Habitual substance abuse problems
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Mental illness or instability
  • Putting the children in an unsafe living environment
  • Being incarcerated
  • Not being interested in the children’s welfare
  • Neglect

In any situation where parental rights are involved, courts will prioritize the wellbeing of the kids. If a parent continually puts your children in harm’s way, there may be grounds to alter parental responsibilities.

One thing that is NOT grounds to declare a parent unfit is neglecting child support. If a parent is behind on child support, there are ways to enforce the order and make sure they pay. However, terminating custody is not one of them.

It’s extremely important to note that a court will not accept hearsay or a person’s word alone as proof. The burden of proof is on you, and you will need to present convincing evidence such as:

  • Medical documents (injuries, sicknesses related to the home environment, etc.)
  • Photographs or videos proving abuse
  • Police reports and criminal records
  • Relevant e-mail, text message, social media posts, etc.

In any case, what will or won’t be useful for your case is best determined by a family attorney. Proving an unfit parent can be a daunting task. Getting a lawyer involved early is the best way to make sure the situation is handled quickly and efficiently.

How do you prove a parent unfit?

Claiming a parent as unfit in Illinois is not an allegation that’s taken lightly. Doing so without supporting evidence could do much more to hurt your case than help it.

To prove a parent is unfit, the court will need supporting documentation like police reports, criminal records, photographs, medical documents, and other verifiable documentation.

However, just because documentation exists isn’t a guarantee that the court will change the other parent’s rights. The court will always decide whether or not modifying parental responsibilities is in the children’s best interest.

In most cases, a court will always try to keep both parents involved in their kid’s lives.

How do you prove the best interest of the child?

The “best interest of the child” is the word that often comes up in Illinois law. But what does that mean?

Broadly speaking, the best interests of the children are served when their physical, emotional, and mental well-being are being taken care of. If either parent seriously threatens a child’s safety or emotional state, the court may make a change because it’s in the child’s best interest.

This means that your personal feelings about the other spouse’s parenting style, or if they engaged in an adulterous relationship are not likely to be considered. Instead, the court is looking for tangible, hard proof that the other parent’s actions are negatively affecting the child.

Additionally, courts will note whether each parent has been consistently involved in the children’s life.

Illinois family courts presume that having both parents involved in their children’s life is in the children’s best interest. Therefore, they are much more likely to modify parental responsibilities and parenting time (custody and placement) than terminate them altogether.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prove an unfit parent in Illinois?

To prove that a parent is unfit, you need evidence that demonstrates how the parent has done things that are not in the best interest of the child. The courts do not take this accusation lightly, so it cannot be for a small reason. Your evidence must prove that the other parent did something serious like put the child in an unsafe environment or neglected them.

Why would a parent be deemed unfit?

A parent is unfit if they are unable to be responsible for a child. If a parent is deemed unfit, that directly impacts decisions of child custody and placement. A parent is deemed unfit if there is proof of things like abuse or neglect.

What happens if a parent is deemed unfit?

If a parent is deemed unfit, that will be reflected in the amount of custody and parenting time they are given. In extreme circumstances, the court gives one parent sole custody if the other parent should have no custody of the child. Another option is for a parent to get supervised visitation where they can only see the child with someone else present.

How do you take an unfit mother from a child?

You should not take a child from someone yourself. Rather, you take them to court and have the courts help you resolve the situation. If a child is in an unhealthy situation and you are worried about their safety, then you should call the police.

How to get full custody in Illinois?

If you want to get full custody of your child in Illinois, you need to prove to the court that it is in the child’s best interest for you to be the only person making decisions for them. You can prove this by demonstrating that the other party is incapable of making major decisions for the child. This can be demonstrated through proof of previous actions or other methods.

How do you prove an unsafe environment for a child?

To prove an environment is unsafe for a child, you could have pictures or testaments proving what the situation looks like. This can be of things like the house not being child proofed or of there being drugs in the household.

References: [1]Unfit Person