What is child abduction?
Child abduction is when one parent takes, keeps, or hides a child from the other parent without their permission. The following will tell you what to do if your child has been taken away without your permission.
When can I charge the other parent with child abduction?
- If you have a court order giving you custody of your child and the other parent hides, keeps or takes your child without a court order. It does not matter if you are married to the other parent or not;
- If you are the mother of the child and there is no court order giving custody of the child to anyone, you probably have custody. This means that you may charge the other parent with child abduction if he takes the child without your permission. But, this is only true if the "paternity" of the father has not been proven. Paternity is the way to show that there is a legal relationship between father and child;
- If you are the mother of the child and have an order giving you child support, you probably have custody of your child. This means that you may charge the other parent with child abduction if he takes the child without your permission. This is true even if the father has proven paternity and there is no order giving custody to either parent;
- If you are married to the other parent and you do not have a court order giving you custody, you may charge the other parent with child abduction if the other parent has hidden the child from you for 15 days or has taken the child from you using force or threats; or
- A mother can abduct a child from a father if she takes or hides a child whom she has left or given away custody of. The father must have been taking care of the child while the mother was gone, but he does not need to have proven paternity.
If you believe the other parent has taken your child out of the state or country, talk to a lawyer.
What is paternity?
Paternity means that someone is legally the father of a child. Paternity can be proven in 3 ways:
- By both parents signing a "Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity," if the parents were not married when the child was born, and recording it with the Registrar of Vital Records. Visit the Illinois Department of Vital Records' website for more information about establishing the paternity of a child and to access the necessary forms with instructions;
- By bringing a lawsuit; or
- By the parents marrying after the birth of the child and legitimizing the child by signing the proper documents with the Department of Vital Records. Visit the Illinois Department of Vital Records' website for more information about legitimation and to access the necessary forms with instructions.
If I am charged with abducting a child, how can I defend myself?
There are some defenses (arguments for why you should not be charged with a crime) that you can use if you are charged with abducting a child:
- You have a custody order and you have not hidden the child for more than 15 days
- You have hidden the child for more than 15 days to escape domestic violence. You must have a custody order, or be the mother and the court has not given anyone custody. A domestic violence charge is very serious. You should talk to a lawyer as soon as you can. You should be able to find a free lawyer to talk to; or
- You were with your child at the time the child abduction charge is made and it is not your fault that you have not been able to return the child. You have to tell the other parent where the child is within 24 hours of the end of your visit. You must return the child as soon as possible.
How do I charge the other parent with child abduction?
- Go to the police station in the area where the child was abducted.
- Ask to speak to the youth officer.
- Tell the youth officer you want to file a report of child abduction.
The youth officer will look for your child in the area. If the police find your child, they will bring the child back to the parent who has custody.
What can you do if the police will not help or if they are not working hard enough to help?
The law says the police have to follow rules in the case of child abduction. Follow these steps to make sure they follow the rules:
- Take these with you and go to the lieutenant in charge or watch commander:
- Tell the supervisor about your problems in getting help with your case.
- Write down the names, badge numbers, and telephone numbers of all officers who will not follow the child abduction law.
Updated: December 1969