The Dangers of Child Abduction After a Divorce
One of the most terrifying situations a parent can go through is having their child taken away. Divorces can be messy, emotional affairs, but there are proper, legal channels to settle child allocation disputes. There is no excuse for denying one parent their allotted time with their child or threatening to relocate the child. In the state of Illinois, this can constitute a case of child abduction or parental kidnapping.
Parental Kidnapping vs. Child Abduction
Parental kidnapping is a form of child abduction, based on Illinois Compiled Statute Sec. 10-5. A parent is guilty of child abduction if he or she:
- Violates court-ordered child allocation, such as withholding a child from joint custody;
- Violates a court order that prevents him/her from taking or relocating the child;
- Conceals, detains, or removes a child from the other parent before child allocation is settled by the court;
- Does not return a child after his/her allotted parenting time has expired; or
- Conceals the location of a child for at least 15 days from the other parent and makes no effort to return the child.
How Illinois Courts Respond to Child Abduction Cases
Illinois courts take child abduction cases extremely seriously. It is no longer considered a custody dispute, but a child welfare situation. The court can use considerable resources to return the child to safety and punish the offending parent. Even if the guilty parent leaves the state with the child, the court may work with multiple departments across state lines to track them down and safely return the child.
Child abduction is a Class 4 Felony that can result in three to six years in prison, depending on the factors in the case. The other parent may also receive a restraining order for their child against the guilty parent to prevent future incidents.
What If My Ex Threatens to Take My Child Away?
Parents who have court-ordered joint custody cannot take a child away from the other parent or leave the state without the other parent’s consent, as it is a violation of a court order. If your ex is threatening to violate parenting time, keep your child away from you, or take your child to another state, then you should speak to an attorney about reporting it to a family law court. You may be able to request an emergency order of allocation or a restraining order to protect your child. You should also keep a record of your ex’s statements, either copies of text messages, emails, or letters, as well as photos of your ex and your child to show the authorities in case the worst happens.
At Nottage and Ward, LLP, our Chicago child allocation attorneys can outline all of your legal options and advocate for the safety of your child. To discuss your case with our legal team, call (312) 332-2915 as soon as possible.
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