Legal Memorandum: Determining the best interest of the child after finding a parent to be unfit

Issue: Under Illinois law, subsequent to finding a parent unfit, what must happen to award custody to another person?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: ; Parent; Unfit; Child; Best Interest; Terminate; Preponderance; Juvenile Court Act
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2016

After a finding of parental unfitness, the focus shifts to the child, and the trial court must determine whether it is in the child’s best interests that parental rights be terminated with custody awarded to another suitable person, which the State must prove by a preponderance of the evidence. In re S.K.B., 2015 IL App (1st) 151249, ¶ 48; In re Davon H., 2015 IL App (1st) 150926, ¶ 64.

Under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987,

[W]henever a [child’s] best interests determination is required, the following factors shall be considered: the physical safety and welfare of the child, including food, shelter, health, and clothing; the development of the child’s identity; the child’s background and ties, including familial, cultural, and religious; the child’s sense of attachments, including where the child actually feels love, attachment, and a sense of being valued; the child’s sense of security; the child’s sense of familiarity; continuity of affection for the child; the least disruptive placement alternative for the child; the child’s wishes and long-term goals; the child’s community ties, including church, school, and friends; the child’s need for permanence which includes the child’s need for stability and continuity of relationships with parent figures and with siblings and other relatives; the uniqueness of every family and child; the risks attendant to entering and being in substitute care; and the preferences of the persons available to care for the child.

[statref]705 ILCS 405/1-3(4.05) (West 2016)[/statref].

The court may […]

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