images (54)Whether you are just beginning the divorce process or post-divorce, there are laws in Illinois that operate to help prevent an ex or soon-to-be ex from leaving the country with your child.  The most important thing in either of these scenarios, is to act fast and be prepared.

During the pendency of divorce proceedings, and before custody and visitation have been decided, you have legal protection available to you to stop your spouse from leaving the state of Illinois with your child.  As soon as the divorce petition is filed and served, Illinois law prohibits the removing or concealing of a child from the other parent.  The intent of the law is to maintain the status quo until a final decision is made with regard to custody.

Once the divorce proceedings are over, and custody and visitation have been decided, Illinois criminal law can be used to protect the child from being hidden or removed from the state without the consent of the non-custodial parent.  Criminal charges are available in these cases where the parent intentionally conceals the child or takes the child out of Illinois.

Where the issue is taking the child out of the country, not just out of the state, the cases are treated very seriously by Illinois courts, to try to stop it before it happens.  Once your child is in another country, it is far more complex, dealing with many layers of international law.  You will likely face the prospect of an expensive, lengthy legal process, during which you may not have much contact, if at all, with your child.

Prevention, and preparation, therefore is most important.  If you have any reason to suspect that your ex may be planning to leave the country with your child, you should have your family law attorney seek orders from the court to help deter this.  Having orders in place before an incident arises, can help law enforcement move faster if need be.  Emergency orders are available as well.  The court can take away the child’s passport, alert the airlines, and grant supervised visitation if you can prove that an abduction is probable.

Having an attorney representing you that is very familiar with not only the laws concerning marital dissolution in Illinois, but also the relevant Illinois criminal law and other related laws, can give you the best chance at success in stopping this tragedy before it starts.