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Father and grandmother fail to return daughter to mother

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Divorce can be tough on kids. It can also be tough on the parents, especially when a parent does not receive as much time with the child as they would like. As one father recently found out, however, taking possession of a child in violation of a valid child custody agreement is illegal and counterproductive.

The 25-year-old father and the child's 58-year-old paternal grandmother reportedly took child custody into their own hands, failing to return the three-year-old girl to the mother on schedule. The girl was supposed to go back to the mother on the evening of December 6. When the child had not been returned by January 2, authorities issued arrest warrants for both the father and the grandmother alleging unlawful retention by a parent.

In Illinois, child abduction is a felony. Child abduction occurs when a person intentionally violates a court custody order by concealing or detaining a child against the wishes of the other parent. In addition to criminal penalties, abduction may result in barring or severely limiting an offending parent's access to their child.

Such crimes and accompanying consequences may be avoided by preparing for potential divorce, and the need to divide custody of a couple's children, through a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement can contain a child visitation agreement, deciding how to apportion a child's time between parents before divorce creates high tension and emotion.

A prenuptial agreement can also help determine property division and spousal support long before divorce occurs. This in turn can reduce arguments and make a divorce more amicable. The fewer bad feelings involved in a divorce, the less likely the spouses will be to risk violating a court order to gain custody at the expense of the other parent.

It is important to remember to obey a child custody order, regardless of whether one has signed a prenuptial agreement. A parent who is dissatisfied with a child custody arrangement should fight it through legal means.

The father here turned himself in and soon after the charges were dropped. The grandmother has been ordered to stay away from the child and is awaiting another hearing on her case.

Source: The Mining Journal, "Child custody defendants in court," Adelle Whitefoot, Jan. 18, 2013

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