Archive for the ‘Parental Rights’ Category

Establishing the Father-Child Relationship Under Illinois Law

February 14th, 2015 at 10:23 am

father-child relationship, Chicago family law attorneysIt is easy to establish the parent-child relationship between a birth mother and her baby. After all, the only legal requirement is proving that she gave birth to the child. Establishing paternity, however, is not always as simple.

Illinois law presumes paternity if:

  • The man and the child’s natural mother were married at the time of conception;
  • After the child’s birth, the man and the child’s natural mother marry and he is named (with his written consent) on the birth certificate as the father; or
  • The man and the child’s natural mother have signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or other acknowledgment of parentage approved by Illinois law.

If the presumption of paternity arises due to marriage, it can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence. If the presumption involves a signed acknowledgment of paternity or parentage then that presumption is conclusive unless the acknowledgment has been legally rescinded within a certain time period.

Acknowledging and Challenging Paternity

The easiest way to establish paternity when the man is not married to the child’s mother is by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity at the hospital when the child is born. Both parents must sign the form in front of a witness who is at least 18 years old, who also signs the form. If either parent wants to rescind this acknowledgment, he or she must submit a rescission form to the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services within 60 days of signing the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.

Once the 60-day period has passed, it is very difficult to disestablish paternity. An acknowledgment of paternity can be challenged in court, but only for fraud, duress or material mistake of fact. The challenging party has the burden of proof.

Paternity can be established voluntarily, or it can be established by a court. The law permits certain parties to bring a legal action to determine the father-child relationship, including:

  • The child;
  • The child’s mother, including when she is pregnant;
  • Any person or public agency with custody of, or providing financial support to, the child; or
  • A man presumed or alleging himself to be the child’s father.

These various parties will likely have different reasons for establishing paternity. Once paternity is established, a parent has certain legal rights and obligations, including custody, visitation, and contributing to the child’s financial support. If you want to bring a legal action establishing–or challenging–paternity, contact one of our Chicago, IL paternity lawyers today. From offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and Chicago, Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you with your paternity matters throughout Illinois.

Voluntary and Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

February 12th, 2015 at 10:11 am

parental rights in Illinois, Chicago IL child custody attorneyBeing a parent is both a responsibility and a privilege. The basic responsibilities– contributing to your child’s care and support–are fairly straightforward. Parental privileges are a little more obscure and vary by family. Legally, however, parenting is a privilege because parental status comes attached with certain rights, such as the right to make decisions regarding the child.  It also comes with responsibilities, such as contributing to the child’s financial support.

Note that parental rights can be terminated and the legal parent-child relationship destroyed. Under these circumstances, the parent relinquishes the responsibilities and the privileges, including the right to be part of the child’s life. The child also loses any legal obligations toward the parent.

Parental rights can be terminated voluntarily, or involuntarily, if:

  • The parent surrenders the child to an authorized agency for adoption;
  • The parent consents to the child’s adoption;
  • The parent waives his parental rights as pursuant to putative father laws; or
  • A court determines that the parent is unfit and then appoints a guardian ad litem who is authorized to consent to adoption.

Parental unfitness must be established by clear and convincing evidence and does not turn on the best interests of the child. Common grounds for unfitness are:

  • Child abandonment;
  • Substantial neglect;
  • Failure to maintain interest, concern or responsibility for the child’s welfare;
  • Deserting the child for a three-month period prior to the adoption;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Depravity (i.e., conviction for certain serious crimes, including murder);
  • Failure to protect the child from dangerous conditions; or
  • Failure to contribute to the support the child despite having the physical and financial ability to do so.

Once the court rules on the termination of parental rights, it must next consider the best interests of the child. For example, should the child be placed in a foster home or adopted by a family member? The court will decide; the former parent does not have a say.

Reestablishing Parental Rights by Petitioning for Adoption

Former parents may sometimes reestablish their parental rights by petitioning for adoption. The child is eligible for adoption if:

  • The child was a ward of the state when the parental rights were terminated; and
  • The child was adopted by blood relatives who have since died without appointing a standby guardian or adoptive parent; or
  • The adoptive parent has a physical or mental impairment rendering him unable to care for the child, and he consents to the adoption petition.

Adoption eligibility is not the only criteria. The parent must also prove that the adoption is in the child’s best interest and that the former parent is willing and able to care for the child. The petition will likely hinge on the initial basis for terminating parental rights, as well as the steps the parent has since taken to resolve the issues existing at the time of the termination.

If you are a parent facing involuntary termination–or seeking voluntary termination–of parental rights, contact one of our Chicago family law attorneys today. We will help you understand your legal rights and the legal consequences of termination. Contact us today for a consultation. Anderson & Associates, P.C. has offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.