Father’s parental rights to his minor child were terminated. Before the child’s birth, the father had been convicted of at least three felonies. Therefore, the father was “depraved”. This was the basis of his loss of parental rights. He was an unfit person under the law.

The court recognized that one of the felonies had been found to be unconstitutional. The aggravated unlawful use of a weapon conviction was null and void. Therefore, it could not serve as a basis for finding a father to be deprived.

DCFS could not now establish that the father met the statutory definition of depravity. DCFS appealed.

Under the Juvenile Court Act, parental rights cannot be terminated without the parent’s consent. Unless the court first determines that the parent is an “unfit person”. That is defined by section 1(D) of the Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/1(D) (West 2010) ). 705 ILCS 405/2-29(2) (West 2010).

“Involuntary termination of a parent’s rights without a prior showing of unfitness would, in fact, be unconstitutional.” It must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.

There is a rebuttable presumption that a parent is deprived if the parent has been criminally convicted of at least 3 felonies. Under the laws of this State. Or any other state. Or under federal law. Or the criminal laws of any United States territory. And at least one of these convictions took place within 5 years of the filing of the petition or motion seeking termination of parental rights.” 750 ILCS 50/1(D)(i) (West 2010).

Father’s aggravated unlawful use of a weapon conviction had been found to be null and void. Father did not have three felony convictions. He could not be found to be deprived under the law.

The Appellate Court found that the termination of the father’s parental rights was not proper.

In re N.G., 2018 IL 121939 2018.

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