Parental Kidnapping Laws in Illinois
Custody disputes can create severe stress and a contentious environment — a situation that can damage a child’s well-being. However, the consequences can be far worse when parental kidnapping is introduced.
Parental kidnapping occurs when a parent wrongfully removes a child from his or her home, or even from the state or country. Moreover, parental kidnapping often occurs during custody disputes. When a parent kidnaps his or her child, the effects can be detrimental on a child’s relationship with the parent.
State, federal, and international laws prohibit parental kidnapping. Although most people consider kidnapping as a stranger luring a child or forcibly taking a child away, parental kidnapping is actually much more common.
Parental kidnapping can include violations of custody orders or other court orders, or refusing to return a child after a visitation period has come to an end.
Parental kidnapping is a serious crime in Illinois and can lead to fines, probation or jail time. The crime is prosecuted under Illinois’s child abduction laws and is a Class 4 felony. Parental kidnapping occurs when:
- A parent intentionally violates the terms of a custody order by detaining or concealing the child or removing the child from the court’s jurisdiction;
- A parent intentionally violates the terms of a court order prohibiting the removal, concealment or detainment of a child;
- A putative father intentionally conceals, detains or removes the child without the consent of the mother or legal guardian, as long as the child’s paternity has not been legally established, or a custody order has not been entered;
- A parent intentionally removes or conceals a child after a petition for divorce or paternity has been filed, but before any court order has been issued;
- A parent refuses to return a child at the end of a visitation period;
- The child’s parents have been or are married; however, there is no custody order, and one parent conceals the child for at least 15 days and makes no attempt to notify the other parent as to the child’s whereabouts; or
- The child’s parents are or have been married, but there is no custody order, and one parent conceals, detains or removes the child by force or threat of force.
In addition to fines or jail time, the Court can order a child to be returned to his or her custodial parent. The Court may also order the kidnapping parent to pay the costs of locating and retrieving the child.
Illinois law provides an exception to parental kidnapping for parents who are escaping domestic violence. A person has a defense to child abduction if he or she was fleeing an incidence or a pattern of domestic violence.
Emergency Custody Order
If a parent fears that the other parent is going to kidnap his or her child, the parent can ask the Court for an emergency custody order. If the parent can show that there is an emergency situation warranting the order, the Court may enter the custody order without notice to the other parent.
Emergency custody orders are only valid for a short period, until there is an opportunity for a hearing with both parents present. The emergency custody order may later be replaced with a permanent restraining order if the non-custodial parent poses a real flight risk, safety risk or other risk to the lawful custody of the child.
If you going through a divorce or custody dispute, please contact skilled Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson to schedule a free initial consultation.