It is possible for a parent to abduct his or her own child. In fact, any instance where a parent keeps, hides, or outright takes his or her child from the child’s other parent without court authorization may be considered to be parental child abduction. The laws outlining child abduction in Illinois are outlined in Chapter 720 of the Illinois Criminal Code. When a child is illegally taken out of the United States, the Office of Children’s Issues, part of the United States Department of State, is tasked with investigating the case and helping reunite the child with his or her parent.
If your former spouse has taken or kept your child from you in excess of his or her authorized parenting or visitation time, you may have the right to charge him or her with child abduction. Conversely, if you have taken your child from your former spouse beyond your allotted time together, you could potentially face child abduction charges.
What Constitutes Child Abduction?
Keeping one’s child beyond his or her court-ordered visitation time does not automatically warrant a child abduction charge. One of the following scenarios must occur for a parent to be able to file a child abduction charge against his or her former spouse.
- A parent without court-ordered custody takes the child without the custodial parent’s permission.
- The court orders one parent full or joint custody of a child and the other parent refuses to allow the child to spend time with him or her according to this agreement.
- The parents are married and one parent takes the child through threats or force or he or she hides the child for 15 days or longer.
A parent who commits one of these actions may have grounds for defense against the charge depending on the situation and the reasons for taking the child.
Domestic Violence and Other Defenses Against a Child Abduction Charge
When a parent flees a situation where he or she faced domestic violence and keeps his or her child for longer than 15 days, he or she may have a defense against a child abduction charge.
If a parent has a custody order for his or her child and keeps the child from the other parent for fewer than 15 days, an act of child abduction has not occurred. This can be for any reason, including the inability of the parent to get the child to his or her former spouse in a timely manner.
Penalties for Child Abduction
Child abduction is a serious criminal charge. If you have been accused of abducting your child, you could face fines, jail time, and probation.
Family Attorneys in DuPage County
If you have been accused of child abduction or your spouse has kept your child from you beyond his or her court-ordered custody time, talk to an experienced DuPage County family attorney to learn more about how Illinois’ child abduction laws affect your case. The experienced team at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., proudly advocates for families in DuPage County. Contact us at (877) 889-4515 today.