Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Appeal fails, father loses parental rights


By Asia Mayfield | Aug 23, 2018

Illinois' 5th District Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling from St. Clair County Circuit Court.

MT. VERNON –– A St. Clair County father lost his attempt to overturn a lower court's ruling revoking his parental rights.

The Fifth District Appellate Court on Aug. 17 affirmed a ruling from now retired St. Clair County associate judge Walter Brandon, who found the father, only identified as "James L.," neglected his daughter "M.L." 

The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) took the child into protective custody in 2014. She was four years old at the time. 

Three years later, DCFS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of James and the mother.

The petition alleged multiple counts of neglect and exposure to "an environment injurious to her welfare."

Court documents show the father has been in and out of jail. When out of jail, the father failed to participate in DCFS' recommended plans to regain custody, such as attending parenting classes and finding employment and a place to live. 

The circuit court terminated parental rights in January and the father appealed. He argued the child abuse came from the mother and not him. 

In the decision, the appellate court said that distinction does not matter.

"At the adjudicatory stage, the court must focus solely on whether the child has been neglected or abused, not on whether the parents were neglectful or abusive," Judge Richard Goldenhersh wrote in the unanimous decision.

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate CourtIllinois Department of Children and Family ServicesSt. Clair County Circuit Court

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