How to Terminate a Father's Rights in Illinois

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Illinois Compiled Statutes establish the grounds for termination of a father's rights. In addition, the law sets forth the procedures used to sever a father's rights. Generally speaking, a father's rights can be terminated in adoption proceedings or if the father is determined to have engaged in a pattern of abuse or neglect of the child. In a case of abuse or neglect, there must be no reasonable likelihood that the father can be reintegrated into the life of the child.

Request a petition to terminate parental rights form from the clerk of the circuit court. You obtain the form from the circuit court clerk in the county where the child resides.

Complete the petition to terminate form, following the guidelines provided by the circuit court clerk.

Include specific contentions supporting the request to terminate a father's rights to a child. For example, if the father has deserted the child for a period of at least three months, provide that information in the petition as permitted by Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Insert information in the petition regarding whether a severance of the father's rights is desired to allow for an adoption. Note whether the adoption is sought by a stepparent or by third parties.

Sign the petition in front of a notary public.

File the petition with the circuit court clerk.

Request the circuit court clerk to direct the sheriff to serve the petition on the father at his last known address. If the father cannot be found, and no address is available for him, the court clerk will use service by publication procedures established in Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Schedule a hearing date on the petition. The hearing is scheduled by either the circuit court clerk or the administrative assistant to the judge assigned the case.

Organize documents and other tangible evidence -- photographs, for example -- that support your contention regarding termination of the father's rights. Line up witnesses who support the petition as well. Request the circuit court clerk to issue subpoenas to the witnesses to ensure they are present at the hearing.

Attend the hearing. Present evidence to the court, including documents, other materials and witnesses. Keep in mind that a parental rights termination hearing is held before a judge only, with no jury.


  • The Illinois laws and procedures represent complicated legal matters. Consider retaining an attorney to represent you in such a case. The Illinois State Bar Association maintains resources to assist you in finding an attorney.



About the Author

Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.

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