Reinstating Parental Rights In Illinois
In the overwhelming majority of cases, when your or your spouse’s parental rights are terminated, there is no getting them back. Normally, if parental rights are involuntarily taken away, it means that evidence of abuse or neglect has been discovered, after which it is considered too dangerous to allow the child to remain in your home. However, if there are other reasons for termination, such as a parent’s abrupt deportation, it may be possible to have the determination reversed, dependent on several different factors.
Illinois is one of only a handful of states to even countenance the possibility of reinstatement of parental rights after their termination. The law holds that if filed by the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) or by the minor child themselves, parental rights may be reinstated if certain conditions are met, namely that the motion is supported by “clear and convincing evidence.” This is not subjective; it is a specific burden of proof that a court will insist upon before granting the motion.
Other factors that must be shown to exist in a potential reinstatement case are that at least 3 years must have passed between the original termination and the current day, the child must be 13 or older (or the younger sibling of a child 13 or older who wants reinstatement), and that the parent must want reinstatement and show a ‘substantial change in circumstances’ since the termination or the entry of the order. In short, the law wants a child to be old enough to understand the consequences of reinstating their mother or father’s parental rights, and it wants the parent to be able to show the home will be safe and appropriate for the child.
A Recent Increase in Importance
While reinstatement petitions do happen at a reasonable clip, the issue has recently come to the forefront, especially in immigration circles, because of the situations in which undocumented parents have been systematically stripped of parental rights with little or no legal justification beyond their immigration status. This is not a new phenomenon, with cases dating back some years wherein U.S. citizen children are placed into guardianship with citizen families, for their own safety or other reasons, and then simply never returned to their rightful parents.
However, this has begun to occur more often under the new administration, sometimes with the parent or parents being subjected to expedited removal and thus not granted a hearing. These children are being left in flux. In Illinois, if the only ground given for termination is lack of valid immigration status, it usually means that the U.S. citizen child is left in the country alone, which leads to them being placed in foster care. If you are able to return to the United States, or if you are able to establish a guardianship with someone you trust beforehand, it may mean the difference between losing your children forever and having a lifeline to get them back.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
The parental right to parent is not confined only to U.S. citizens. If you are targeted because of your immigration status, it is critical that you enlist legal assistance immediately. The skilled Kane County family law attorneys at The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. can help ensure your parental rights are as well protected as possible.