When Your Child Is Taken by Your Spouse…What Can you Do?

child abductionIn the most embattled custody disputes, a child may be absconded and removed by the other parent without the other’s consent. Depending on the circumstances, there are various forms of relief, most of which turn on how immediate the threat of harm is to the child.
1. Activating an Amber Alert: This is clearly the most extreme measure. It is generally not available nor appropriate. An Amber Alert can only be issued in Illinois provided all 4 of the following criteria are met:
• Law enforcement must confirm a child has been abducted;
• The child must be under the age of 16 or have a proven mental or physical disability;
• Law enforcement must believe the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death; and
• There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help.
Provided the above criteria are met, parents are not precluded from Amber Alerts being issued against them.
2. Filing an Emergency Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction: This is generally a viable option for the parent who knows that their child is with the other parent and not in harms ways. The relief will not be granted immediately in many cases but you can present a case before the Court as to why the other parent must return the child quickly and be prevented from taking the same actions again.
3. Filing a Petition for a Parenting Schedule: If the parties do not already have a schedule this might be an appropriate action once the child is returned. It may prevent the parties from unilaterally removing the children in the first place. Any violation of the agreement would result in a contempt action.

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