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Illinois Courts May Exercise Temporary Jurisdiction in Emergency Child Custody Situations

Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois child custody attorney, temporary custody, Illinois family law attorneyAn Illinois judge recently ruled that a Missouri teenager who has been hospitalized in Chicago should not be returned to his mother. The teen became a temporary ward of this state after the hospital reported his mother for medical child abuse. She wants to move him to another hospital in a different state, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services believes that she is interfering with her son’s medical treatment. For that reason, he has been placed under temporary protective custody in Illinois.*

*Note that the following is not a commentary on jurisdictional issues in the Missouri teenager case. Rather, the case is an example of when Illinois courts might address such issues.

Generally, Illinois courts do not have jurisdiction to make initial child-custody determinations unless:

  • Illinois is the child’s home state when the proceedings commence, or within the six months preceding that date (even if the child is absent – in that case a parent or person acting as a parent must live here);
  • The home state declines jurisdiction and the child and his parent/parents/person acting like a parent have a significant connection to Illinois other than physical presence;
  • The home state declines jurisdiction and there is substantial evidence in Illinois regarding the child’s care, protection, training and personal relationships;
  • All other courts that have jurisdiction have declined because the Illinois court is the more appropriate forum; or
  • No court in any other state would have jurisdiction.

Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction

However, under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Illinois may exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction when jurisdiction otherwise would not exist. For example, if the child has been abandoned in this state or has been subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse, then an Illinois court may exercise jurisdiction.

Special rules apply to court orders issued under temporary emergency jurisdiction:

  • The child custody determination will remain in effect until a court with jurisdiction issues an order;
  • If a child custody proceeding has not begun in a court having jurisdiction then the Illinois order becomes the final determination and Illinois becomes the child’s home state; and
  • Once the Illinois court is informed that a child custody proceeding has been initiated in, or a child custody determination has been made by, a court with jurisdiction then the Illinois court must immediately communicate with the other court.

The U.S. Constitution requires each state to give full faith and credit to judicial proceedings commenced in other states. In other words, a child custody determination made by another state – if that state has jurisdiction – must be recognized in Illinois. That is why the emergency jurisdiction is only temporary. Once the home state weighs in, Illinois must bow out.

Jurisdictional issues are often complicated, especially when child custody is in question. Our experienced Kane County family law attorneys understand these issues and will advocate on behalf of your child’s best interests during a child custody proceeding. Contact us today for a consultation. We can assist those in Chicago and the surrounding area.
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