Child Custody Lawyers in Waukegan, IL

family law

The phrase "termination of custody rights" can be the most frightening words any parent can hear. On the other hand, this procedure is perhaps one of the strongest legal mechanisms available to protect children in need. Courts must deal with "the best interest of the child" which may mean removal of the child from the home. The procedure is complicated because children are less able than adults to advocate their own interests. The following list summarizes the major grounds for terminating a parent's rights to his or her child:

  • Severe or chronic abuse or neglect of the child
  • Sexual abuse of the child
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
  • Abandonment of the child or extreme parental disinterest
  • Long-term mental illness of the parent
  • Long-term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent
  • Failure to support the child
  • Failure to maintain contact with the child
  • Failure to provide education for the child
  • Felony conviction of the parent for a violent crime against the child or another family member
  • Felony conviction of the parent when the term of imprisonment is long enough to negatively impact the child, and the only other source of care for the child is foster care
  • The child has been in foster care for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months
  • Failure of reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent and reunite the family
  • Failure of the parent to comply with a court-ordered plan
  • The child would be at risk if returned to the home
  • Risk of substantial harm to the child
  • Inducing the child to commit a crime
  • Unreasonable withholding of consent by the non-custodial parent
  • Extreme emotional damage to the child inflicted by the parent
  • The child's need for continuity and care
  • Parental identity or location is unknown
  • The child was conceived as a result of rape or incest
  • The putative or presumptive father is not the child's biological father
  • A newborn child is drug or alcohol addicted
  • Giving birth to three or more drug affected infants
  • Other "egregious conduct, heinous or abhorrent behavior" by the parent
  • The child has developed a strong and healthy relationship with his or her substitute family
  • The preference of the child
  • Voluntary relinquishment of rights by the parent

When the child is not being harmed or removed from the home but parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the court will make the decision considering the totality of the circumstances. To make that determination, the court considers matters mentioned in the list above with emphasis on:

  • The child's age
  • The child's gender
  • The child's physical and mental health
  • The parent's physical and mental health
  • The parent's lifestyle
  • Any history of abuse
  • The emotional bonds between the parent and the child
  • The parent's ability to provide the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care
  • The child's routines including home, school, community, and religion
  • The willingness of the parent to encourage a healthy, ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • If the child is above a certain age, the child's preference

Historically, a consideration of these factors resulted in awarding custody to the mother. Today, any preference for the mother strictly on a gender basis is outmoded. Custody in contemporary society is further complicated since over half of all children are not being raised in the traditional family of two parents and often by others who are not their biological parents. Our lawyers can guide this future as well as show how to keep proper records concerning familial relations, biological background, and family medical history in order to answer the questions of children when they become adults. Family history can be very important since there are over 2,000 known medical problems that derive from their biological background. Identifying information, place of birth, and other history can resolve immigration, deportation issues, and school rights issues later. Such information may save the family and the child, as an adult, countless hours and expense of searching for information that others take for granted and should have been available for future use. DLP has extensive experience in child custody issues, and it is vital to get their legal help as soon as you see a problem.

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Daniels Law Building Criminal Division

19 North County Street Waukegan, IL 60085

DLP Civil Litigation Division

7 South County Street Waukegan, Illinois 60085