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Illinois Divorce: Fathers and Custody

I represented this year a Father who was facing what is called a “termination of parental rights” in court, due to actions that the Mother of the children had taken. Sometimes, if one parent neglects the child or children, both parents can be found to be jointly responsible and the courts can take action to terminate the rights of the parents.

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I was told at the outset of the case that the State’s Attorneys never lose these cases; in a sense, once the boulder starts to roll, there is no way to stop it. A week before the trial, I met my client at the courthouse, and I told him that I wanted to fight this termination case. I felt it was wrong to deprive a good Dad of his rights as a Father, only due to the failures of his partner in parenthood. I had been warned by many, including lawyers watching the case, that the State never loses these kinds of cases.

I told my client at our meeting that I wanted to take the case to trial. I wanted to resist the efforts of the State to terminate his rights. My client, a good man and a good Father, agreed to fight. He knew the downsides if he fought and lost, for at that point the court would adjudicate him as having lost his parental rights. He could agree to sign away his rights, and hope to get some visitation rights, but to go to trial meant adjudication.

My client knew he was a good Dad, and perhaps it was his resilience, and the fact that he did most all that had been asked of him to keep his rights to his kids, that inspired his confidence. But, most of all, he and I agreed together to push back, and to take the case to trial. In the end, the State decided not to fight us…perhaps they saw our resolve to win…the State agreed to suspend its termination case, and allow this good Dad to get his kids back.

Representing parents in difficult cases is what I treasure about this practice. But, without a client with the heart and courage like this man I’ve described, it’s a tougher battle. We were a good team, and a good Dad is getting his kids back.