Legal Memorandum: Addiction to drugs and unfit parental proceedings

Issue: Under Illinois law, when does a parent become unfit, within a year, prior to the commencement of an unfitness proceeding?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: ; Unfit; Parent; Addition to Drugs; Drugs; Habit; Inability; Control; Drank; Alcohol
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2016

A parent is unfit under section 1(D)(k) if she [or he] exhibits an addiction to drugs for at least one year immediately prior to the commencement of the unfitness proceeding. [statref]750 ILCS 50/1(k) (West 2016)[/statref].

‘Addiction to drugs’ under section 1(D)(k) means the inability or unwillingness to refrain from the use of drugs where frequent indulgence has caused an habitual craving, manifested by an ongoing pattern of drug use. As with habitual drunkenness, evidence of indulgence without intermission is not necessary to prove drug addiction. It is sufficient to show that a person has demonstrated an inability to control his or her habitual craving."

In re Precious W., 333 Ill.App.3d 893, 899 (2002).

In In re J.J., 201 Ill.2d 236 (2002), the Illinois Supreme Court held that, to establish the mother’s habitual drunkenness, the State must show she had a fixed habit of drinking to excess, such that she suffered significant impairment in her ability to supervise and parent her children due to the consumption of alcohol, and that she used alcohol so frequently as to show an inability to control the need or craving for it. Id. at 251.  There, the two witnesses’ testimony regarding the mother’s consumption of some unidentified amount of alcohol did not meet the State’s burden of proving she drank "to excess" where there was no showing how the mother’s fitness to parent her children was impaired by her drinking during the critical year. Id. In so holding, […]

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