My child went to visit their other parent in another state for the summer, and now the other parent is refusing to return them home. What can I do?

 

Generally, Illinois is considered the “home state” of a child that has resided in Illinois for the six (6) months previous to any filings.  Periods of temporary absence (i.e., visiting the other parent for the summer) are generally excluded from this six (6) month period.  So, if your child has lived in Illinois their entire life, and left to go visit their Mom in Florida in June, and stayed until August, that would still allow Illinois to be the home state.  Children can be ordered by a Judge to be returned to their “home state” of residence, if they are being harbored by the other parent out of state.  Typically, one can obtain a court order that orders the other parent to return the minor child to the state of Illinois.  The parent obtaining the order may have to go down to Florida, or whichever state the minor child is located in, and try to enforce the order using police assistance, but generally, the child can be ordered by an Illinois court to be returned home when Illinois is the home state and the issue occurs in the United States.

Taking it a step further, if there is a Custody Judgment or other visitation schedule that is entered before the Court, which indicates that the minor child has to be returned to Illinois on a date certain (or before school starts) you may have a basis to file, additionally, a Petition for Contempt of Court.  The factual circumstances of every case are different, and so this may not be an option in every scenario.  It depends upon the facts of your case.

You also may need to consider filing for an Order of Protection, naming the minor child as a protected party, to prevent the other parent from wrongfully keeping the child with them, out of state, in the future.  Once again, this depends upon the factual circumstances of your situation.

Our attorneys have experience in returning minor children to the state of Illinois.  If this is an issue you are facing now that school is about to start, feel free to call our office to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys to see how we can assist you.

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