A natural parent may terminate his parental rights to a child either by petitioning the court for termination or by evincing conduct contrary to that of a fit parent. The court may terminate parental rights absent a petition by the parent if it finds the parent has abandoned or abused the child. If the parent is incarcerated for a felony or is mentally incompetent, the court may elect to terminate parental rights as well.
Petition the court for termination of parental rights. If you voluntarily terminate your parental rights, you must draft and file a petition to the local courthouse. Your petition must set forth the reasons you feel that it is in the child's best interest for you to relinquish your parental rights. You must attend a hearing on the merits of the case. The judge will review the facts in your petition and will hear testimony from all interested parties. If you provide clear and convincing evidence that it is in your child's best interest for you to relinquish parental rights, it will issue an order stating so.
Commit one of Illinois' grounds for involuntary termination. Even if you have not petitioned the court for termination of parental rights, a judge could terminate your rights in your absence. Abandonment of your child is one of the leading reasons for the court to terminate your rights even if you haven't petitioned for termination. Abandonment means either leaving the child in the hospital after birth or deserting the child for more than three months. These behaviors indicate an intent to relinquish parental rights and the court will terminate your rights if it finds abandonment.
Meet the court's requirements proving abuse or neglect. This will also result in an involuntary relinquishment of parental rights. Illinois disallows continuous and repeated abuse and neglect of a child. This includes a failure to protect the child from conditions that could injure the child's welfare. Oftentimes, injurious conditions include exposure to drunkenness or drug use. Exposure to unsavory individuals or anyone abusive to the child could be considered grounds for involuntary relinquishment as well.
Commit a felony involving moral depravity. A severe criminal background also is grounds for involuntary relinquishment. This includes conviction of first- or second-degree murder, attempt or conspiracy to commit first- or second-degree murder of a parent of the child or the child himself, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated battery, heinous battery or attempted murder of any child.
Commit one of several other acts that could result in involuntary relinquishment of parental rights. These could include open and notorious adultery and fornication, presence in foster care for more than 15 months or 12 simultaneous months of complete disinterest in the child and his life. The court also will look for evidence of mental incapacity or an otherwise inability to properly care for the child. The greatest consideration is the child's best interest and the court will make a decision under the guise that the child's best interest is tantamount to any other party's interests.