Avoiding Parental Kidnapping

Child custody disputes can be terrifying. Such a dispute places a child in between his or her parents, resulting in an emotionally-charged situation for everyone.

Of course, there are legal steps that you have to follow in order to legally obtain custody of your child or children under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Failure to comply with those laws can strip you of custody, and perhaps even land you in jail.

On the other hand, if you are afraid your fellow parent may be tempted to take your child and run, you need to know your rights.

Parental Kidnapping in Illinois

Many people think of kidnapping as what happens when an outsider or stranger steals a child. However, it is far from the only kind of child abduction. Under Illinois statute, a person is guilty of child abduction if he or she intentionally violates the terms of a valid court order regarding custody. Similarly, one is guilty of child abduction if he or she intentionally violates the terms of a court order regarding the ability to detain a child or move a child to a different jurisdiction. Similarly, concealing or removing a child after a parent is served with divorce papers or paternity papers can be enough to be considered abduction. Even refusing to return a child from out of state when a parent’s visitation time is up is a form of child abduction that can result in serious criminal penalties.

Family/Parental Abductions are More Common and Damaging Than You Might Think

The number of children affected by familial or parental kidnapping is shocking. Psychology Today reports that, according to the Department of Justice, roughly 200,000 of these abductions occur each year. While the damage done to these children is fundamentally different from the suffering experienced by victims of stranger-abduction, the harms are still very real. A full 16 percent of the abducted children experience emotional harm. Abductions can lead to nightmares, bed wetting, damages to relationships with both parents, depression and anxiety.

Tips to Prevent Parental Abduction

Ultimately, the parent who abducts a child is wholly to blame for his or her own actions. But there are several steps a custodial parent can take to minimize risk. According to the Polly Klaas Foundation, an organization that works toward the recovery of missing children, these strategies can be effective:

  • Respect your fellow parent’s custody and visitation rights and try to maintain a friendly relationships;
  • Begin the custody process as soon as possible;
  • Document any abduction threats;
  • Notify schools and other places your child frequents of custody orders; and
  • Obtain a passport for your child and notify that passport office that your child cannot leave the country without your written permission.

Call the Family Law Attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.

When you are involved in a child custody dispute, you cannot take matters into your own hands. There are legal ways to seek change in custody arrangements, and an experienced Illinois family law attorney at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. can help you. Call us today at 630-665-7676 and we will schedule an appointment to go over the details of your case.