Tag Archive for: chicago parental child abduction attorney

Every Parent’s Nightmare: International Parental Child Abduction

The thought of coming home from a long and hard day at the office only to discover that the unthinkable has happened – your foreign-born spouse has left the country and taken your child with them – is a devastating reality for a rising number of parents across the globe. If you are facing such a high-stakes and frightening scenario, here’s what you should know.

In this blog, we will explore five important pieces of information that help shed light on the legal, emotional, and practical aspects. Additionally, we’ll discuss how a child abduction attorney can be a lifeline in these challenging circumstances, offering advice and support throughout the process. 

1. Understanding International Parental Child Abduction

International parental child abduction occurs when one parent unlawfully takes their child from the other parent, often without legal authorization or against the court’s custody order. This act can lead to serious legal repercussions for the abducting parent. It’s crucial to recognize that parental child abduction constitutes a violation of both state and federal laws in many countries. 

There’s a common misconception that parental child abductions are less harmful because the child is with a parent or family member. However, legal systems typically view parental child abduction seriously, imposing consequences such as criminal charges, fines, and imprisonment for the abducting parent. Efforts are made to prioritize the child’s best interests and help ensure their safety in such circumstances.

2. Understanding its Impact on Families

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 230,600* children are kidnapped by a family member each year. Several factors may contribute to international parental child abduction, including parental responsibility disputes, domestic violence, fear of losing access to the child, or cultural differences regarding parental rights. Abductions can occur during or after divorce or separation, and the motivations can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of each case.

When a child is taken, the emotional and psychological toll on them is profound. The sudden separation from one parent and the uncertainty of their well-being can lead to severe distress, affecting the child’s well-being and development for years to come. The abducting parent may face serious legal consequences, including criminal charges, fines, and the possibility of imprisonment. Moreover, their actions could significantly diminish their chances of obtaining parental responsibilities in future court proceedings. If you find yourself in this situation, getting help from a child abduction attorney can help you protect your child’s best interests.

3. Navigating International Parental Child Abduction Procedures

Being familiar with the legal procedures related to international parental child abduction is crucial for taking swift action. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a key framework in addressing these cases.

The Hague Convention was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”), which provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained in the United States may petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence. This treaty involves over 91 countries and has designated Central Authorities from member countries to facilitate communication between nations handling abduction cases.

Child abduction attorneys with experience in international family law serve as valuable resources when navigating the Hague Convention. They can guide parents through the complexities of these procedures and help advocate for their children’s best interests.

4. Preventing Parental Child Abduction

Despite the existence of international treaties such as the Hague Convention, resolving cases of international parental child abduction can be challenging due to differing legal systems and varying interpretations of parental responsibilities. Some countries may not be part of the Hague Convention, making the recovery of abducted children more complex. Parents can take proactive steps to reduce the risk of abduction:

  • Establish a Parenting Plan: Without a parenting plan, no official documentation exists specifying where a child should be at any given time. This legal void can lead to situations where parents can, without repercussion, abandon their children or take them away without the explicit consent of the other parent, especially across international borders.
  • Document Parenting Arrangements: Keeping detailed records of parenting schedules can help resolve disputes and prevent the unauthorized removal of the child.
  • Establish Clear Communication: Maintain open and constructive communication with the other parent. Agree on communication methods and regular updates about the child’s well-being to foster trust and reduce conflict.

Consult a child abduction attorney to navigate complex legal situations across different jurisdictions. By taking proactive measures and staying informed, parents can significantly lower the risk of international parental child abduction and protect their children’s well-being.

5. How a Child Abduction Attorney Can Help

A child abduction attorney can be extremely helpful in cases involving the abduction of a child/children by one parent. When you partner with an experienced attorney, such as those at Masters Law Group, you gain the support needed to advocate for your family’s best interests. Here are some of the ways they can help:

Child abduction attorneys understand the emotional toll these cases can take on parents and children. With their help, you can better navigate the legal system and work toward a resolution protecting your family’s well-being.

Last Thoughts

International parental child abduction is a distressing reality faced by many families globally. The Hague Convention can be valuable for resolving abduction cases involving international borders and prioritizing their well-being. If you or someone you know is affected by this issue, seeking legal assistance and support is advised to navigate this area of international family law effectively. 

At Masters Law Group, our team of knowledgeable attorneys is here to help you through this process. Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international parental disputes in courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system. 

To learn more about our featured Hague Convention Decisions, see here:

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Parental Child Abduction: What to Do When You Don’t Have a Parenting Plan

Parental child abduction is a deeply distressing situation that can shatter the lives of both parents and children. When in threat of such a crisis, having a clear plan in place can make all the difference. 

In the state of Illinois, specific procedures and legal frameworks exist to address parental child abduction cases. In this blog, we will explore the vital role of having a parenting plan and the crucial steps to take if your child is abducted. Here’s what you need to know.


Any parent with a child custody case needs a parenting plan. Child custody is called parental responsibilities in Illinois. The plan needs to be created and filed within 120 days of the case’s start.

A parenting plan is a comprehensive document outlining parental responsibilities and parenting time arrangements for the child. Typically, it is a product of mutual agreement between both parents or a court-determined arrangement when agreement proves elusive. A parenting plan helps bring structure into a child’s life. It also holds parents accountable when caring for their children. Furthermore, it establishes clear consequences if either parent fails to meet their obligations.

Without a parenting plan in place, no official documentation exists specifying where a child should be at any given time. This legal void can lead to situations where parents can, without repercussion, abandon their children or take them away without the explicit consent of the other parent.

In the state of Illinois, according to 720 ILCS Sec. 10-5(b)(6), a parent can abduct their child if, absent a custodial order/parenting plan, “knowingly conceals” a child “for 15 days and fails to make reasonable attempts within the 15 day period to notify the other parent.”


Experiencing a parental child abduction situation can be a difficult situation to endure. Unfortunately, many parental abduction cases stem from one parent’s frustration at not being able to spend enough time with their children. In these situations, parents fail to realize that their actions can be classified as abduction.

A well-structured parenting plan outlines parental responsibilities and helps define the child’s living arrangements, visitation schedules, and decision-making processes. This level of detail and clarity helps both parents understand their roles and responsibilities. In cases where parents have a documented plan, any violations can be easily identified and addressed within the legal framework. In turn, it helps to prevent situations that may lead to accusations of abduction.

There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois. Let’s see what each entails.

  • Joint Parental Responsibility: Parents cooperate on education, healthcare, and religious decisions. It doesn’t necessarily mean equal living time. A residential parent is chosen, while the non-residential parent pays child support and has specified parenting time.
  • Sole Parental Responsibility: One parent has sole authority for all child-related decisions, but the other parent remains involved through parenting time arrangements.
  • Shared Parental Responsibility: This is a group effort of joint parental responsibility where the child spends equal time with both parents, lives in the same school district, and jointly parent the child.

Now that we have a clear understanding of each parental responsibility let’s see how cases of parental child abduction can affect married and unmarried parents in Illinois.


In Illinois, parenting plans play a crucial role in the context of parental child abduction cases, as they provide the legal framework for addressing these complex situations. Illinois laws can help differentiate scenarios involving married and unmarried parents, each with its considerations.

For Unmarried Parents in Illinois:

  • Initial Default: The mother has sole custody until paternity is established.
  • Establishing Paternity: Various legal processes, such as voluntarily acknowledging paternity or pursuing a court-ordered paternity test, can determine each parent’s legal rights and responsibilities.
  • Priority: Regarding parental responsibility cases, the primary concern is the child’s best interests.

For Married Parents in Illinois:

  • Encouraged Parenting Plan: The court encourages tailored custody and visitation plans for married parents.
  • Court Intervention: If an agreement is not reached, the court may intervene to establish parental responsibility.
  • Primary Consideration: Regardless of marital status, the child’s best interests remain the primary consideration in custody matters.

Parental responsibilities in Illinois serve as a foundational component in addressing parental child abduction cases. They can help provide a legal structure to navigate these challenging situations while prioritizing the child’s best interests. Whether parents are married or unmarried, Illinois law can establish custody and visitation arrangements that are essential in preventing and resolving parental child abduction cases.


Traumatic events like parental child abduction can be emotionally challenging, and the well-being of both parties should consider counseling or support groups as valuable resources for coping with the distressing situation. If the other parent has abducted your child without a parenting plan in place, take immediate action:

  • Contact Law Enforcement: Report the abduction to your local law enforcement agency. Please provide them with as much information as possible about the child, the other parent, and their whereabouts.
  • File for Custody Orders: Petition the court for custody orders that establish your legal rights to the child. The court will consider the child’s best interests when making a decision.
  • Seek Legal Assistance: Consult a skilled family law attorney with experience in child abduction cases. They can guide you through the legal process and help you file a petition for your child’s return. Working with a child abduction attorney can help secure the safe return of your child.


Working with a child abduction attorney is crucial in parental child abduction cases. The legal process can be complex, but you can work towards the best outcome for your child’s well-being with the right support. When you partner with an experienced child abduction attorney, such as those at Masters Law Group, you gain the support needed to advocate for your family’s best interests. Here’s how they can assist you:

  • Legal Advice: Child abduction attorneys deeply understand the relevant laws and regulations.
  • Expedited Legal Proceedings: They can help expedite the legal process, increasing the chances of a swift resolution.
  • International Experience: A child abduction attorney can work with the proper authorities to prevent your child from leaving the country.
  • Hague Convention: If your child is taken to another country, they can help you navigate the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention helps facilitate the safe return of children.


Preventing parental child abduction is critical for any parent facing parenting time disputes or separation. Support from a child abduction attorney can help reduce the risk of abduction and protect your family’s well-being. Our Senior Attorneys, Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph, have extensive experience in cases involving international parenting time disputes in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court systems.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.