Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, February 11, 2008

Case Law Development: Termination of Parental Rights Does not End Child Support Obligation

In an unpublished opinion, the Illinois Supreme Court has held that the termination of parental rights does not extinguish a child support obligation unless the child is being adopted.  The court relied on the language of the Illinois statute, which refers to termination of parental obligations as to “a child sought to be adopted.”   The court stated: "We conclude that, after the entry of an order terminating parental rights, where the child is not adopted, [the Act] applies as its plain language indicates, only where the child is 'sought to be adopted'…. To hold that this language is of no effect, as respondent urges, would render the language superfluous or meaningless."  The court rejected the appeals court’s  interpretation of the “sought to be adopted” language as including any child 'available for adoption', noting that the legislature could have specifically used this language.

Three judges dissented, arguing that the court’s interpretation created significant inconsistencies in the law, both between the termination statute and the juvenile code and between this holding and prior precedent.

Illinois DHFS v. Warner, Ill., Illinois Supreme Court, January 25, 2008
Opinion on the web (last visited February 9, 2008 bgf)

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And you wonder why people HATE politics. I voluntarily gave up my parental rights, whether the paperwork will show that or not, in the best interest of the child. I was told that the child would most likely be adopted the same day as I signed away my rights. In the court documents terminating my rights, it states that the child is adoptable, and in all likelihood, will be. It goes on to state that the petitioner, my ex, would be the sole person responsible for the support of the child.

Once you sign your rights away, you have no appeal process, and you have no rights whatsoever of ever obtaining any information pertaining to the child from that point on. Well...the step father did not adopt the child, and nine years later when I happened by chance to find out that he did not, and my ex discovered that she was entitled to child support for those 9 years, she pursued it, and has been awarded back child support. I however, have lost 9 years and surely more because I am constantly portrayed as a dead beat dad, of the opportunity to be a father to the child. I am, by law, obligated to pay this back child support, and now, even though I have experienced periods or unemployment, and under employment and am currently unemployed, my Illinois drivers license will be suspended if I do not pay several months of back child support in the next 40 days, further hindering my ability to seek and experience gainful employment.

So men, when someone tells you that they want to adopt your child in his or her best interest and if you sign your parental rights away, then you will no longer be obligated to pay child support, it is a lie. The only way someone can adopt your child is if they take away your rights, or you sign them away, and even then, you're responsible to continue to pay child support if the promises to adopt are not carried through. Furthermore, you are not entitled to be notified if the adoption does not take place....It's a big old fashioned catch 22. Damned if you don't, and damned if you do....

By the way, they claimed that I had not maintained a normal relationship with my child. My then wife, moved 1,000 miles away while still pregnant under the ruse that she anticipated health problems, and possible birthing problems and wanted to be nearer her parents who were both registered nurses, which made sense at the time...considering she had indeed had past problems with pregnancies, specifically, three prior abortions, none that I was the father of... I insisted that we have the child, and offered to marry the mother even though we were no "in love" or would have otherwise been married.

So....for my insistence that we didn't abort the child, and for me allowing her to leave the state, the burden of maintaining a "normal" relationship with the child was put entirely upon me, and when I couldn't afford to fly the child to Illinois from Arizona every other weekend, and for 2 weeks in the summer, my parental rights were taken (according to them) and I must still pay child support. Keep in mind I did make frequent phone inquiries, and often talked (?) to my then 2 and three year old on the phone, in conversations lasting usually 10 seconds....(the child has ADHD) not to mention, it's kind of hard to have a phone chat with a 2 year old....

VERY Frustrated in Illinois.....

Posted by: Harry Jackson | Oct 22, 2009 12:30:26 PM

My fiance is in the same situation. He was raped when drunk by his phsyco ex girlfriend and doesn't remember the incidence at all. She came to him later saying she was pregnant. He wanted nothing to do with the child and this made her angry. After the child was born she pursued child support out of spite. When the child was two she was adopted by her stepfather but over those two years she managed to convince to courts to order him to pay her over 26,000 dollars, of which he is still paying. He has been unemployed for over 2 years and the courts don't care. They threaten to arrest him if he doesn't make a payment on time. We can't afford the ammount that we have to pay every month, we lost our apartment, our car, and sometimes can't even afford to eat or take care of our own child. I feel your pain when the mother collects child support even though they may not need it. It ruins a lot of people's lives and even though the father is doing everything he canhe is still considered a "deadbeat". This system is seriously one-sided in the mother's favor and I am disgusted that the courts are doing nothing to ease the pain inflicted by greedy and spiteful mothers.

Posted by: Meredith | Dec 7, 2009 1:41:43 PM

Try being the mother thats is taking care of kids that the father has nothing to do with.....and thats by choice....not chance.....and would rather sit inside a jail cell than help take care of what he had a 50% hand in making!!!!! I do not feel sorry for ANY man in child support cases!!! My father did it to my mother and now my twins POS excuse for a father is doing it! Nothing but worthless cowards!!

Posted by: Amber | Apr 20, 2010 12:21:05 PM

I worked with a lot of clients that thought by losing visitation that meant they didn't need to pay child support anymore! The courts despise this and will not give you any leeway. Don't stop paying!

Posted by: Florida Child Custody | Mar 8, 2011 7:34:36 AM

FIRST OF ALL! F you for saying that about ALL dads having to pay child support, my husband and i just got married and have been together for 3 years now, his "daughter" is 3 now and him and i have a 1 month old baby, she is a bitch and is ONLY doing this because she knows that the 3 year old she can hold over his head, and RUIN us as a family by having NOTHING. you know nothing just cause its happening to you!, you dont know what it does to good people because the mother wants to be a POS and JEALOUS, shes even said that that 3 yr old isnt his.

Posted by: chiane | Mar 24, 2012 8:27:31 PM

In response to Meridith, First of all shame on you, Im a non-custodial father and I worked 50- 60 hours weekly to only take home 60 dollars a week. I lost my car, ,I cant afford an apartment. I had cancer and my x just like yourself didnt give me a break.Meanwhile you can remarry ,double your income and you say your man would rather sit in jail. Guess what he has a place to eat and sleep now. Guess what that beats living in the streets. I havent seen my daughter in 7 months because my x wants me to jump when she barks. Hundreds of women collect child support, move in a new man, fraud the food stamp programs and sit back and collect while fathers struggle to survive. If its too hard for you to raise children give us custody and you pay child support. Then maybe women will understand what we go through

Posted by: Mr. Pissed Off | Jan 6, 2013 9:35:43 PM

This is kinda disheartening. If you are in the situation of the parents and you are denied of parents right however you are still oblige to pay for child support, how cruel could that be. But of course, there could really be something not good going when a person is denied with parent's right.

Posted by: Northern Kentucky Attorneys | Jan 21, 2013 1:38:56 AM

You should read Ct. case law Heikkinen vs Sullivan says yes to end child support and no adoption needed.

Posted by: termination of parental rights illinois | Jul 17, 2013 4:21:57 AM

Thank you for this useful article .... According to my openion we should learn the legal side of this issue before moving to court for that this law firm will help you

Posted by: georgebaby | Sep 10, 2014 6:41:32 AM

I don't understand how someone who makes 60,000 a year could get child support from someone who can't get a job and/or don't have one.

Posted by: Kas | Apr 14, 2020 11:31:50 AM

A child support obligation does not terminate when a custodial parent is awarded an order of physical or legal separation from the noncustodial parent. The obligation continues until it has been satisfied through the payment of periodic payments, or the child reaches age 18, whichever comes first.

Posted by: Name Combiner | Sep 5, 2022 3:12:54 AM

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