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How Illinois Courts Define an Unfit Parent

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How Illinois Courts Define an Unfit Parent

Accusing a parent of being unfit is a serious matter that Illinois courts take very seriously. To have your children’s other parent deemed unfit by the court, however, you’ll need to prove your claim. Courts recognize that in the heat of divorce or custody battles, parents can be driven to make claims that may or may not be true in the eyes of the law, and they are careful to do the necessary investigating before identifying a parent as unfit, which can have serious implications in terms of their parental rights and responsibilities. 

If you have questions or concerns about how fit your children’s other parent is, it’s time to consult with an experienced Chicago child custody attorney

When a Parent Is Unfit

Illinois law deems parents who cannot be trusted with the care of their children unfit, but it is not a black-and-white matter. There are varying degrees of unfitness – each of which must be clearly proven. The more serious the determination of a parent’s unfitness, the more significantly it will affect their parenting time or physical custody and parental responsibilities or legal custody. 

How a Parent Is Deemed Unfit

In order to have your children’s other parent deemed unfit, you’ll need to demonstrate that they engage in some form of dangerous parenting practice, such as any of the following:

  • Treating the child with extreme or ongoing cruelty
  • Abandoning the child
  • Ongoing neglect of the child
  • Failing to reasonably attend to the child’s well-being 
  • Failing to take reasonable responsibility for the child’s welfare
  • Having the means to do so but repeatedly failing to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, and shelter
  • Failing to protect the child from adverse environmental conditions
  • Being convicted of a crime that demonstrates depravity, such as sexual assault or murder
  • Having a mental impairment, mental illness, or addiction that precludes taking adequate care of the child
  • Being responsible for the child when drugs are found in said child’s system

Proving that a Parent Is Unfit

If you believe your children’s other parent is unfit, you probably have a wide range of reasons for coming to this difficult conclusion, but you’ll need to prove the matter to the court, which involves evidence. Examples tend to include:

  • Photos or videos that capture some aspect of your ex’s unfit parenting 
  • Relevant police reports and records
  • Relevant electronic evidence, such as texts, IMs, emails, posts on social media, and beyond
  • Medical documents that attest to injuries your child sustained at the hands of your ex or while under their care or that attest to illnesses related to the other parent’s inadequate care

Without clear evidence to the contrary, Illinois courts find that children’s best interests are best served when they are allowed to maintain strong relationships with both parents, which means they won’t declare a parent unfit without a solid basis for doing so.

An Experienced Chicago Child Custody Attorney Can Help

The practiced Chicago child custody attorneys at Andrea Heckman Law recognize the gravity of cases involving unfit parents and have the compassion and drive to help. Learn more by contacting us today.

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