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Tag Archives: parental rights

Kane County family law attorneyDivorce and family-related legal proceedings are difficult on all parties involved. It can get infinitely more challenging when a parent is struggling with mental illness. However, the mere existence of mental illness or neurological variance should not be grounds for loss of parental responsibilities, formerly called child custody. Every person is entitled to a fair evaluation of his or her legal competency.

Legal Competency

When a parent is mentally ill, the issue becomes one of mental capacity, which is used to determine a person’s legal capacity to parent. Unfortunately, many times, that capacity is assessed by outdated benchmarks, by biased people. Recent statistics by the National Council on Disability shows rates of child removal from a home where one parent has a psychiatric or intellectual disability are as high as 80 percent. This is manifestly unjust for both parent and child. A parent’s disability may be considered when determining the best environment for a child, but making a blanket determination without an appropriate review is wrong.

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DuPage County family law attorneysIf you are a divorced parent, it can be challenging at times to maintain a healthy close relationship with your child when you have limited parenting time and relatively few parental responsibilities. Your bond with your child can be even further strained if your former spouse decides to remarry. Many parents are willing to endure the new challenges because the child may experience a renewed sense of security and stability as a result of the remarriage.  But, what if the other parent’s new spouse expresses interest in legally adopting your child? Do you know what your rights would be in such a situation?

Divorcing Parents

According to the law in Illinois, a child can have only two legal parents. When a child is born to a married couple, each spouse is presumed to be the child’s legal parent unless there a reason to believe otherwise—a paternity action filed by a third party, for example. A divorce does not alter either spouse’s status as the child’s legal parent. When a divorced parent remarries, his or her new spouse is not automatically afforded any parental rights or responsibilities under the law. He or she may be the de facto head of the household and act as a parental figure, but those are practical concerns and not legal considerations.

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DuPage County family law attorneyAllegations of child abuse, both real and imagined, are sadly common in many divorce cases, as emotions run high and dirty laundry may be aired. If you lodge accusations of child abuse or domestic abuse as a part of your divorce proceeding, you must be able to back them up with evidence and be ready to take on the parental responsibilities that may come your way.

Interacting With DCFS

In Illinois, the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) is required by law to investigate any accusation of child abuse, regardless of its source. Even if you know at the outset that the accusation is spurious, DCFS has a legal mandate to investigate, and the law must be followed. While it is understandable that you might be offended or angry at the insinuation that you would act in a negative manner toward your children, DCFS officers might take such behavior as defensiveness. This is not to say that DCFS personnel will never make unreasonable requests. If you feel that a request or order is unrealistic or inappropriate, it is generally best to consult with your attorney.

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Wheaton family law attorneys, terminate parental rightsA questions asked by some divorcing parents is whether or not they are able to terminate the parental rights of their ex-spouse for various reasons. The answer is usually no; however, in unusual situations where a series of events have occurred, the answer may be yes. Either way, it is in your best interests to ensure that you understand your options.

Illinois' Adoption Act

Illinois law, for better or worse, does not allow one parent to simply file a petition expressing a wish to terminate his or her ex-spouse's parental rights. The wish to terminate must come along with someone willing to step into that place. Moreover, the most common situation in which this occurs is that of adoption.

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