How to Get Your Kids Back!
I was in court this week on another illegal child kidnapping case where one parent snatched a child from the other primary parent and ran off to another state. Our client, the father, had let his daughter see her mother in California for voluntary summer visitation and then kept the daughter illegally. The mother had given our client bogus addresses prior to the visit and continued to do so as my client unsuccessfully searched for his daughter. Eventually, an abuse and neglect case was begun in CA against the mother related to bad parenting by the mother. This investigation finally got my client accurate address and school information for his daughter just last week & allowed us to take immediate legal action for him to get possession of this daughter. Once we had the address information we got into court within a matter of days.
For better or worse, I have a lot of experience in ‘child snatching’ cases…we get probably 1 ‘child kidnapping’ call per month. Here are some tips to prevent child snatching and also what to do if your child is taken illegally:
- Prevention. Kidnapping by parent cases nearly always involve unmarried parents who have no court-ordered custody or visitation orders. This set-up opens the door for the child snatching because without court ordered custody/visitation arrangements BOTH parents have the same rights as one parent. Here’s a previous post about the need for a simple, uncontested parenting arrangement before the relationship between parents sours.
- Location. A big reason for the case this week was my client not knowing where the child’s mother resided when he sent his daughter to CA. Even without court orders you must be certain of the other parents home/work locations and the child’s school. Use a private investigator or address verification service, if necessary.
- Passport Possession. The above situation from last week likely has a different ending if the mom could get the kid out of the country. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction does provide protection for out-of-country abductions but it’s a whole separate federal court case. And, if the country where the child is located is not a signatory to the Hague Convention you may never see him/her again.
- Hire a Good Lawyer. Kidnapping by parent situations aren’t the time to use the cheapest, first year lawyer. The pleadings prepared before court make the case as much as the actual court appearance.
- Act Quickly. Generally the best action in child kidnapping cases is an Emergency Petition for Order of Protection. Although the Illinois Domestic Violence Act is generally tied to the problem of physical abuse or harassment against a spouse/girlfriend there’s also specific language in the law that protects a parent from the concealment of a child by another parent. Judges are used to doing things fast when an Order of Protection is at issue versus a traditional custody or visitation case.
- Local Key Contacts. I can help with the legal aspects of child snatching but it’s still critical to have help ‘on the ground’ or all the court orders in the world may not matter. Be sure to have police, school, and child welfare contacts handy to assist you once you have the court’s orders.
To close, these are absolutely cases where you handle them right or you lose your kid(s) forever. We can help you up front with a simple parentage/custody/visitation case or if disaster happens act now and use our experience for your benefit.
Make an appointment here NOW or call 312-893-5888.