The possibility of a parent taking their child outside of the country to escape custody laws can be a very scary situation for many Illinois parents. If a parent takes a child abroad, it can be difficult to enforce a custody agreement. There are several steps a parent can take to prevent such an abduction or bring a child back.
Many nations today have a formal international agreement recognizing each nation’s jurisdiction in child custody matters. This means that very often a parent and their attorney can work with international law enforcement officials to have a child found and returned. The process is not easy or fast, but it could be the best option for parents of abducted children. The rules and process are outlined under the Hague Convention’s child abduction section.
Preventing the abduction is typically far easier than dealing with it after the fact. If a formal custody order is not yet established because the case is still in court, then a parent can request that the judge hold the child’s passport pending the resolution of the case. It might also be a good idea to enroll the child in The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program. This will send a notification to the parent if anyone attempts to get a passport for the child. If a parent feels there is imminent danger of abduction, then the parent can request an emergency custody order or supervised visits to ensure there is no opportunity for abduction.
A divorce attorney should be advised if a parent thinks international abduction by the other parent is a possibility. The attorney might then assist the parent in gaining the necessary protections, such as an emergency custody order. The attorney may also help ensure that the wording of any custody agreement deters such abduction by making it illegal to take the child out of the country.
Source: HCCH, “Welcome to the Child Abduction Section,” Accessed on Feb. 17, 2015