Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Illinois

Date: July 2021

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 705, § 405/1-2; Ch 750, § 50/1

Provided that a ground for unfitness under chapter 750, § 50/1 can be met, it may be appropriate to expedite termination of parental rights, as follows:

  • When reasonable efforts are inappropriate or have been provided and were unsuccessful, and there are aggravating circumstances including, but not limited to, those cases in which any of the following is true:
    • The child or another child of that child's parent was abandoned, tortured, or chronically abused.
    • The parent is criminally convicted of first- or second-degree murder of any child, attempt or conspiracy to commit first- or second-degree murder of any child, solicitation to commit murder of any child, aggravated assault, or aggravated criminal sexual assault.
  • When the parental rights of a parent with respect to another child have been involuntarily terminated
  • When the parent's incapacity to care for the child, combined with an extremely poor prognosis for treatment or rehabilitation, justifies expedited termination of parental rights

The grounds of unfitness are any one or more of the following:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The parent has abandoned a newborn infant in a hospital or any setting that suggests that the parent intended to relinquish his or her parental rights.
  • The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to any of the following:
    • Mental illness, mental deficiency, or intellectual disability
    • A conviction and incarceration for a felony
  • The parent has substantially and continuously or repeatedly neglected the child.
  • The parent has been found, two or more times, to have physically abused any child or to have caused the death of any child by physical abuse.
  • The parent is found to be depraved, as demonstrated by a conviction of any one of the following crimes:
    • First- or second-degree murder of any child or the parent of a child
    • Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit murder of any child
    • Predatory criminal sexual assault or criminal sexual abuse
    • Heinous or aggravated battery of any child
    • Sexual exploitation of a child
    • Permitting sexual abuse of a child
  • The child was born exposed to controlled substances, and a substance-exposed child was previously born to the same mother.
  • The parent has repeatedly and continuously failed to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, and shelter, although financially able to do so.
  • The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the child for a period of 12 months.
  • A putative father has failed to establish paternity.
  • The parent has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern, or responsibility for the child's welfare.
  • The parent has failed to protect the child from conditions within his or her environment that is injurious to the child's welfare.
  • The parent has engaged in open and notorious adultery or fornication.
  • The parent has exhibited habitual drunkenness or addiction to drugs, other than those prescribed by a physician, for at least 1 year immediately prior to the commencement of the unfitness proceeding.
  • The parent has failed to make reasonable efforts to correct the conditions that were the basis for the removal of the child from the parent's home.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 705, § 405/2-13

When a child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, the Department of Children and Family Services shall request the State's Attorney to file a petition for termination of the parent's parental rights unless good cause exists that filing a petition to terminate parental rights is contrary to the child's best interests. For purposes of this section, good cause exists in the following circumstances:

  • The child is being cared for by a relative.
  • The department has documented in the case plan a compelling reason for determining that filing a petition would not be in the best interests of the child.
  • The court has found that within the preceding 12 months the department has failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family.
  • The parent is incarcerated, or the parent's prior incarceration is a significant factor in why the child has been in foster care for 15 months out of any 22-month period, the parent maintains a meaningful role in the child's life, and the department has not documented another reason why it would otherwise be appropriate to file a petition to terminate parental rights.

The assessment of whether an incarcerated parent maintains a meaningful role in the child's life may include consideration of the following:

  • The child's best interests
  • The parent's expressions or acts of manifesting concern for the child, such as letters, telephone calls, visits, and other forms of communication with the child, and the impact of the communication on the child
  • The parent's efforts to communicate with and work with the department in complying with the service plan and repairing, maintaining, or building the parent-child relationship
  • Any limitations in the parent's access to family support programs, therapeutic services, visiting opportunities, telephone and mail services, and meaningful participation in court proceedings

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 705, § 405/2-34

A motion to reinstate parental rights may be filed only by the department or by the minor regarding any child who is presently a ward of the court when all the following conditions are met:

  • The child's parent consented to the child's adoption or the parent's rights were terminated pursuant to a finding of unfitness.
  • Subsequent to that, the child has remained a ward of the court.
  • The child is not currently in a placement likely to achieve permanency.
  • It is in the child's best interests that parental rights be reinstated.
  • The parent named in the motion wishes parental rights to be reinstated and is currently appropriate to have rights reinstated.
  • More than 3 years have lapsed since the parent's parental rights have been terminated.
  • The child is age 13 or older, or the younger sibling of a child who is age 13 or older for whom reinstatement of parental rights is being sought, and the younger sibling independently meets the above criteria.
  • If the court has previously denied a motion to reinstate parental rights, there has been a substantial change in circumstances following the denial of the earlier motion.

Any party may file a motion to dismiss the motion with prejudice on the basis that, after parental rights were terminated, the parent has intentionally acted to prevent the child from being adopted or intentionally acted to disrupt the child's adoption.

The court shall not grant a motion for reinstatement of parental rights unless the court finds that the motion is supported by clear and convincing evidence. The court shall consider the reasons why the child was initially brought to the attention of the court, the history of the child's case as it relates to the parent seeking reinstatement, and the current circumstances of the parent for whom reinstatement of rights is sought.