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Reducing the chance of an international child abduction

On behalf of Janet Boyle of Boyle Feinberg Sharma posted in Child Custody on Monday, December 21, 2015.

Parents in Illinois who are getting a divorce may have an additional worry if their estranged spouse has ties to another country. In some cases, a parent will take a child out of the country, and it can be difficult to get the child back. However, there are steps a parent can take to reduce the likelihood of this happening.

A parent who is concerned that this is likely can file for sole custody. This will be a temporary order, and it will be filed in the court before the other spouse sees it to ensure that the spouse does not get a warning that might prompt them to leave the country with the child. The parent’s concerns about a possible international abduction should be included in the document. The other parent can then appear at a hearing to oppose the order.

Another important step is having an order allowing the parent concerned about abduction to keep the child’s passport. A new passport cannot be applied for on behalf of the child without a court order. In some cases, if a parent has already left the country, it may be possible to work with local courts, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy in the other country to return the child.

A parent who is considering divorce and has concerns about an international abduction may want to visit an attorney before discussing the matter with the other spouse. The attorney may be able to offer strategies such as these to protect the child. While courts generally favor allowing both parents access to a child, the parent may also be able to work with the attorney to come up with a custody plan that reduces the likelihood of the child being taken out of the country. If the parent leaves the country illegally with the child, it could take years to arrange the child’s return.