Few things infuriate separated couples quite like money and child custody. Unfortunately, we far too often see parents make bad decisions in the context of child custody. These range from ill-advised choices, to felonies, to worse. On the extreme side of the spectrum is parental kidnapping.
Parental kidnapping occurs when a parent wrongfully takes or keeps a child away from another parent who has rightful custody of the child, either during custody proceedings or in violation of existing child custody orders. Illinois has some of the stronger laws in the country regarding parental kidnapping. Specifically, under the “Child Abduction” statute, Illinois makes it a Class 4 Felony Offense for a parent to intentionally:
- Violate a custody order “granting sole or joint custody, care, or possession to another by concealing or detaining the child or removing the child from the jurisdiction of the court”;
- Violate a court order that specifically prohibits a person from concealing or detaining the child or removing the child from the jurisdiction of the court;
- Conceal, detain, or remove a child from a mother if the person is a father who has not been adjudicated, or has been adjudicated but does not have custody orders;
- Conceal or remove a child from a parent after filing a petition for custody or being served with a petition for custody, but prior to the issuance of a temporary order or final order;
- Fail to return the child to an Illinois custodian after the expiration of out of state visitation rights;
- Conceal the child for more than fifteen days from the other parent if the parents are married or have been married but have no custody order, without providing notice of the whereabouts of the child or the ability to contact the child;
- Conceal, detain, or remove a child with “physical force or the threat of physical force”; or
- Keep a child in Illinois for 30 days or longer in violation of a court order from another state.
Valid defenses to this felony may include: (1) the existence of a court order at the time of the alleged violation that gave custody to the person accused of kidnapping; (2) that the violation was beyond the alleged kidnapper’s control, that the other parent was notified within 24 hours of the expired visitation period, and that the child was returned as soon as possible; or (3) that the alleged kidnapper removed the child while fleeing due to domestic violence.
A Family Law Attorney Can Help You
If your spouse has abducted your child in violation of court orders, contact the authorities and contact a lawyer immediately. If you are on the other side and feel like your custody orders are unfair or one-sided, do not take the law into your own hands and engage in felony conduct. Instead, contact an attorney to discuss the prospects of modifying your child custody order. Courts take these matters very seriously, and so do I. I have practiced family law for over twenty years and will provide you with professional, no-nonsense legal counsel. Call The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 for a consultation or visit our website today.