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Child Abduction and Parenting Time Compliance Violations

Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County parenting plan attorneysFor most parents, losing their children is one of their worst nightmares. If it happens as a result of the actions of your former spouse, it can arguably be worse. Most people think of kidnapping or abduction as a drawn-out, premeditated plan that can span international borders, but in Illinois, the definition is much simpler.

Intent Matters

Illinois law defines child abduction as intentionally or knowingly perpetrating a number of acts designed to hide or keep a child from the other parent with a legal right to parenting time. Some of these include:

  • Violating a court-approved parenting plan;
  • Refusing to return the child at the conclusion of an established parenting time period;
  • Concealing or otherwise obfuscating the child’s whereabouts; or
  • Using the threat of physical force to keep the child and the other parent apart.

Intent or mens rea is an important tenet of establishing a criminal offense. Thus, if a child is unintentionally kept from their parent, the law does not consider this an offense, as misunderstandings do happen. For example, a delay of a few hours due to traffic or a car that broke down is not likely to be considered abduction.

Defend Yourself

If you are in the position of being accused of child abduction, there are affirmative defenses at your disposal. An existing court order granting you shared physical custody—parenting time—is the most obvious. Others include fleeing a pattern of domestic violence and circumstances beyond your control. The latter can be difficult to prove, however; Illinois jury instructions mandate that a “reasonable attempt” must be made to contact the custodial parent, but “reasonable” is necessarily a subjective measurement. The burden of proof is on the accuser to prove abduction, but if you are able to assert an affirmative defense, you will likely be subjected to less court time and inconvenience.

Being convicted of child abduction is a class 4 felony in Illinois, which can carry significant penalties, such as being required to register for the sex offender registry, in addition to jail time. Many such punishments are only applicable if a court arrives at a finding of aggravated child abduction, which would constitute neglect or abuse of the child, or removal of the child from a school or other place designated as a safe zone. A conviction on charges of child abduction can also have a dramatic impact on your parental rights. Family courts do not look favorably on parents who do not cooperate in promoting their child’s best interests.

An Aggressive Attorney Can Make a Difference

If you believe your child has been abducted, you have both civil and criminal options, including bringing the full weight of law enforcement down upon the other parent. Conversely, if you have been accused of child abduction, it is imperative to establish your actual intentions. In either situation, a skilled attorney can be vital. The experienced DuPage County child custody attorneys at Pesce Law Group, P.C. are ready to put our knowledge and skills to work for you and your family. Contact our office today to discuss your case.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K10-5

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/circuitcourt/criminaljuryinstructions/crim%2008.00.pdf

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