In Illinois as in any other U.S. state or territory, the termination of parental rights is the act by which all responsibility, right to contact and legal connection is severed in the eyes of the court. This is a common step in the adoption process, whether by a new family or by a step-parent, but it is not without its challenges.
Either maternal or paternal rights can be terminated by a custodial parent if and when certain factors can be proven to the satisfaction of the court. These factors include, but are not limited to, criminal activities, abusive behavior, abandonment and long-term failure to meet court-mandated obligations, such as child support payments. Furthermore, an individual can choose to sign a waiver of parental rights, and this voluntary termination of rights only requires that the party in question held legal rights as a parent at one time. For mothers, this is established at birth, but Illinois requires that fathers have paternity established prior to terminating their rights as a parent. The specifics of the termination of parental rights can be found within Illinois statute 750 ILCS 50, and it is covered under the state's "Children's Law" legislation, including the "Adoption Act."