It is reasonable to believe that one of the most difficult decisions that a family court judge must ever make is to rule against a biological parent seeking custody of his or her child. The state of Illinois, like most jurisdictions, holds the rights of parents in extremely high regard, often going to great lengths to protect such rights in all manner of unusual situations. Sometimes, however, the right of the child to a safe, healthy environment supersedes parental rights, and, in those cases, a judge must intervene on behalf of the child. Such was the scenario in a Cook County courtroom last week, as a family court judge ruled that three children were likely to be abused if they were permitted to remain with their mother, a woman with a well-publicized history.
“We Do Not Have to Wait for the Injuries.”
The case in question involved three children, ages 5, 3 and 1, of a woman who was convicted of child endangerment in 2006. Her conviction was related to the 2003 drowning deaths of her three previous children, ages 6, 3, and 2 at the time. The woman’s boyfriend at the time was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence, while the woman served five years in prison and has since been released. In last week’s ruling, the judge decided that not enough has changed in the woman’s life since then, and that, even without the previous deaths being considered, there is evidence that abuse and neglect exist in regard to her current children.
While attorneys argued that the children do not exhibit signs of physical injury, the judge asserted, “We do not have to wait for the injuries.” He found that the woman has not cooperated with treatment for her ongoing mental health problems, and that she continues to minimize her role in the deaths of her other children. However, the judge indicated that he was not retrying her for those deaths; instead, it was his responsibility to make sure that her current children were protected in light of her previous actions.
More Hearings Upcoming
Following the ruling, the case will now move into the next stage of the process, in which a juvenile court will need to determine whether the children should become wards of the court. If it determined that they should be, further hearings will be necessary on the issue of foster care. The woman and her husband have vowed to continue to fight to keep their family together.
Legal Help Your Child-Related Concerns
There is nothing more important than protecting the well-being of children. In some cases, however, it can very difficult to figure out what exactly the best options are. If you are facing a child-related legal matter, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Our compassionate team will review your case and help you decide how to proceed, keeping your child’s best interests a top priority every step of the way. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato today and get the quality legal representation you deserve.