Interstate removal in divorce can pose dangers to children

Local readers may have heard about a recent case involving the alleged kidnapping of a 5-year-old boy by his father, who brought the boy to Illinois. In some cases of divorce, child custody disputes can turn dangerous for the children involved. Parents should be vigilant in protecting children’s interests, despite what may be a contentious separation between spouses.

In the case out of Alabama, local police reported that the boy was found safe after he was taken from a yard while playing outside a home. An AMBER alert was issued for the boy after a van drove up to the yard, and the driver placed the child in the van and drove away. The local police said that the boy was taken by his father because of an ongoing child custody dispute with the child’s mother.

Although kidnapping is illegal, when one parent wishes to take a child out of state during the course of a divorce, this is known as interstate removal. In cases where one parent applies for the court to allow interstate removal, unless the parties reach an agreement, the issue will likely be contested. Concerns like the non-custodial parent’s involvement in the out-of-state move, differences in culture, the parents’ financial interests and the new living arrangement proposed for the child may be in dispute.

In the course of resolving these issues, Illinois courts view protecting children’s interests as the most important factor. They also take into consideration the wishes of the parents and children. In cases where one parent seeks interstate removal, courts must approve any move or relocation, since it interferes with existing or future custody and visitation agreements between the parties.

Interstate removal issues arise in many Illinois divorce cases. In the recent matter of alleged kidnapping by an Illinois father, it is unclear how the court will rule, but in any case, to keep children safe during a divorce, it is important for parents and courts to work together toward a resolution that promotes the best interests of the child.

Source:, “Child Reported as Abducted Found Safe; With Father in Illinois,” Ty Watwood, August 13, 2012