The Illinois Parentage Act: Constitutional?
Stobbs, Stephen A.
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In Illinois, a putative father's relationship with his child can be arbitrarily terminated by the State. A man who fathers a child and abandons both the mother and child is subject to court termination of his parental rights. However, the same person can actively care for and participate in every way with his child's rearing, and still be subject to court termination of his relationship. In essence, the rule in Illinois is that a father's parental rights are not dependent on the relationship he has with his child, but rather, on a law which ignores the nature of their relationship. While the Illinois Parentage Act seemingly considers the "best interest of the child," in the case of the father-child relationship it does not. The Act authorizes the court to terminate a father's parental relationship with his child if he fails to adequately register his interest with the State within two years of the child's birth. This article suggests that the Act is unconstitutional and that it simply covers too many good fathers who care about their children, actively participate in their upbringing, but are unaware of the need to "register their status." The United States Supreme Court established that developed parental relationships are protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. This article examines the Court's reasoning and applies it to the Illinois Statute. The reader will note many familiar Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment cases and will learn how the Court applies them to the issue presented herein. Further, the article will give the reader insight into the progress of the Court in the area of family law, as well as a projection for future holdings.