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Parental Child Abduction in Illinois

Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneysSometimes, when child custody arrangements or plans to move do not go the way a parent would like them to, that parent may resort to extreme measures. In Illinois, parental abduction of a child (PAC) is a crime, but only under certain circumstances. Also, it helps to know what the ramifications might be on a parental responsibilities order if one parent commits such an act.

The Crime in Illinois

Many states, including Illinois, have criminalized the taking away of a child from the parent with primary custodial responsibilities by the other parent. However, in Illinois, there are strict guidelines about what constitutes an abduction and what does not.

Firstly, abduction and kidnapping do differ. The latter involves force or threats of force, while the former is accomplished usually with the subject’s consent—in this case, the child’s. The consequences differ between the two acts. Secondly, the father’s paternity is consideration, where in other states the question is irrelevant. Illinois law states that a parent may charge the other with child abduction if the charging parents has a court order granting him or her custodial rights. However, if he or she does not have an order, there are other ways a parent can be held accountable.

A mother may charge a father with PAC when she has putative custody (that is, if there is no order yet entered and she has physical custody) if his paternity has not been conclusively established. In Illinois, paternity is presumed if the mother was married to the father at the time of the child’s birth.

If you are married to the other parent, and you have no custody order, you may still charge the other parent with PAC if he or she has hidden the child for 15 days, or if he or she has taken the child from you by force.

A mother may be charged with PAC by a father who has been looking after the child in her absence (even if his paternity has not been conclusively established) if she “takes or hides a child” whom she has abandoned.

Abduction Prevention

Many couples nowadays are putting abduction prevention safeguards into their divorce decrees or seeking modifications to add them. One of the most common ways that parents agree to work together to avoid child abductions is to post bonds, or money held in trust, so that if an abduction happens, the other parent may use that money to help track the fleeing parent down. Another is mandating supervised visits, or collecting the child’s—and sometimes, the other parent’s—passport and holding it during visitation.

If safeguards are not in place, and you fear an abduction may happen, a last-ditch move you can make is to attempt to get an emergency custody order. Illinois follows the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which mandates that a parent may file for an emergency child custody order if (1) the child is present in the state, and (2) the child has been abandoned or “needs emergency protection” due to threats of abuse toward them (or their sibling or custodial parent).

Seek Professional Assistance

If you fear your children are in danger of being abducted by your spouse, or if it has already happened, you need good legal representation on your side. Contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney at Pesce Law Group, P.C. for guidance. Call 630-352-2240 for a free, confidential consultation at our office.

Sources:

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

https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/what-do-if-your-child-abducted

http://www.stopfamilyabductionsnow.org/parents.html

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