Legal Memorandum: Evidence to be considered when evaluating a parent’s reasonable progress

Issue: Under Illinois law, when evaluating a parent’s "reasonable progress" when seeking return of a child, what evidence may a court consider?

Area of Law: Family Law, Litigation Practice & Procedure, Litigation Practice and Procedure
Keywords: ; Parent; Child; Return: Reasonable Progress; Objective Standard
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2016

The trial court may only consider evidence occurring during the relevant nine-month period mandated in section 1(D)(m) in determining whether a parent has made reasonable progress toward return of the minors. In re J.L., 236 Ill.2d 329, 341 (2010). "Reasonable progress exists when the trial court can conclude that it will be able to order the child returned to parental custody in the near future." (Emphasis added.) In re Daphnie E., 368 Ill.App.3d 1052, 1067 (2006) (citing In re L.L.S., 218 Ill.App.3d 444, 461 (1991)). "Under an objective standard, ‘reasonable progress’ requires, at a minimum, the parent make measurable steps toward the goal of reunification through compliance with court directives, service plans or both." In re Gwynne P., 346 Ill.App.3d 584, 594 (2004) (citing In re J.A., 316 Ill.App.3d 553, 564-65 (2000).

Evidence that respondent made "minimal" progress is not automatically considered reasonable progress.  In In re Gwynne P., 346 Ill. App. 3d at 595-96, the respondent did everything possible under the circumstances to make reasonable progress. The trial court sentenced respondent to a period of incarceration during the relevant timeframe, which included spending time in segregation. Id. Nonetheless, respondent completed all tasks allowed under the circumstances as soon as logistically possible. Id.

In re D.R., E.R., M.R., A.R. and Sy.D, No. 3-15-0663, 3-15-0664, 3-150665, 3-15-0666, 3-15-0667, 2016.IL.0000231 (Ill. Ct. App. Feb. 8, 2016) (VersusLaw).

Date: March 1, 2016