The removal of a child from a parent’s care is something that is treated very seriously in Illinois courtrooms. Indeed, in courts across the country, judges work slowly and carefully to determine a parent’s right to raise a child. If the court deems that the best interests of the child would be better served by permanently severing the parents’ parental rights, they do so. In many cases, however, courts are reluctant to do this, as a child’s biological parents are viewed as a valuable resource for the child’s future.
One particularly difficult issue is whether a father’s rights to visitation or child custody, once taken away, should be reinstated. Often, children are removed from a father’s care due to issues with domestic violence – courts are understandably reluctant to allow such parents to regain custody of their children.
But what if the father turns his life around? Even then, it can be a difficult road.
Take, for example, a Nebraska father who lost custody of his infant son after he committed domestic violence against his wife. The child was removed from his care in 2011 and sent to a foster home. Since then, the father has taken many steps to improve his future. He has taken GED classes and anger management classes. He has consistently attended Alcoholics Anonymous. He has been to parenting groups and taken parenting classes. He moved away from a roommate who could not pass a background check. He has attended his twice-weekly visitations with his child.
His child welfare case manager said it still wasn’t enough, however, and pushed for the man’s paternal rights to be permanently severed.
The case went all the way to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, where judges ruled in favor of the father, stating that although the man’s history of domestic violence was troubling, “one’s history does not alone determine his future.”
Prosecutors say they intend to appeal the case to the state’s Supreme Court.
Omaha.com, “Termination of Nebraska man’s parental rights reversed” Martha Stoddard, Oct. 22, 2013