Can a Person's Parental Rights Be Terminated If It Is Proved That He or She Is An Unfit Parent As a Matter of Law ?

In In re Cheyenne S., 351 Ill. App. 3d 1042, 815 N.E.2d 1186, 287 Ill. Dec. 383 (2004) the trial court made two neglect adjudications. The first finding of neglect concerned only the parent who was not the respondent. In the second neglect adjudication, the trial court found that the respondent neglected the child because the respondent allowed the other parent in the car with the child after the court had ordered the respondent to obtain an order of protection against the other parent. The respondent's parental rights were later terminated. On appeal, we stated that the State's termination petition in Cheyenne S. could not be based on either of the two findings of neglect. The Court said that "common sense dictates that the State cannot file a termination petition alleging that a parent is unfit before the parent that is the subject of the termination petition has been found to have abused or neglected the child in question." Cheyenne S., 351 Ill. App. 3d at 1050, 815 N.E.2d at 1192. The Court held that because the adjudications of neglect concerned the parent that was not the respondent, the State's evidence failed to prove that the respondent was an unfit parent as a matter of law.