How is Child Abandonment Determined in LA?
Child abandonment is a term that is used to refer to a set of behaviors displayed by parents toward their children. It can mean different things in different states. In the State of California, it refers to a parent (or guardian) deserting a child without regard for the child’s health, safety, wellbeing, or welfare, with the intention of wholly abandoning them. In some cases it may also refer to a parent failing to adequately care for a child living in their custody.
“Abandonment” usually refers to physical abandonment—i.e., when a parent takes a child somewhere and leaves them there, or a parent leaves a child at home with no intention of returning. In some cases, however, it may refer to “emotional abandonment.” This is any extreme emotional neglect of a child, in which they are deprived of physical contact or emotional support, bonding, or affection for long periods of time, often repeatedly.
Child abandonment is considered extremely damaging to the child, who may suffer emotional, mental, and sometimes physical harm as a result of their abandonment. Depending on the situation, it may result in a misdemeanor or felony for the abandoning parent. It also may be held against a parent during custodial disputes, and may even disqualify a parent from gaining custody of their child.
What May Constitute Child Abandonment in California?
In the State of California, there are several different behaviors that may constitute child endangerment. These include:
- Leaving the child in the care of another person for a period of at least six months, without visiting or communicating with the child, or providing financial support for the child. This is only considered abandonment if the parent intends to abandon the child.
- Leaving the child in the care of a co-parent for at least one year, without visiting or communicating with the child, or providing financial support for the child. This is only considered abandonment if the parent intends to abandon the child.
- Failing to participate in a plan or program designed to reunite the child and parent
- Leaving the child without identification (ie, a birth certificate)
How is Intention to Abandon a Child Proven?
There are specific metrics with which intent to abandon is shown. According to California Family Code section 7822(b), the following can be used as proof of intent to abandon a child:
- The parent has left the child without leaving identification (like a birth certificate)
- The parent has failed to provide support for the child for an extended period of time
- The parent has failed to communicate with the child for an extended period of time.
Who Can Bring a Child Abandonment Case?
California Family Code section 7820 states that petitions before the court for the termination of parental rights due to abandonment can only be brought by certain people. They include:
- A legal parent of the child
- A grandparent of the child
- A step-grandparent of the child
- A step-parent of the child
- An adult sibling of the child
- Any other adult who has taken over the care and custody of the child, due to the parent’s absence
What Happens if Child Abandonment is Proven?
If a parent is proven to have abandoned their child in court, their parental rights may be terminated. This means that the parent has no parental and custodial say over decisions related to their child. It also means that they are unable to petition for custody or even visitation in the future.
It should be noted that decisions to terminate a parent’s parental rights are final. They cannot be rescinded or appealed. This means that the abandoning parent cannot regain them through the court. It also means that the abandoning parent cannot be petitioned for custody, child support, or visitation requests by the court.
Are you dealing with a co-parent who has abandoned your child? Or are you dealing with an accusation that you have abandoned your child? In either case, a knowledgeable, persuasive, and passionate attorney is needed to guide you through the process. That’s where Attorney Tony Morrow comes in. Attorney Morrow has a long history of helping individuals and families through child abandonment and similar custodial issues in the Los Angeles/Greater LA area. Let him help you, too. Call (337) 240-6697 for a free, personalized consultation today.
“What is the legal process of filing for abandonment of a child if the child’s father is not on the birth certificate? Or is there anything to do at all since he is not on the certificate.”
Generally, Louisiana law does not provide a means by which a the legal relationship between a parent and child can be legally severed or “abandoned.” There are two main exceptions to this rule. The first exception is in cases of adoption where there is a new parent ready to immediately replace the biological parent. In that situation, a biological parent’s rights can be deemed abandoned for things like no contact with the child for six months and non-payment of child support for six months (see Children’s Code Art. 1245). Of course, a biological parent can voluntarily surrender their parental rights in an adoption process as well. The second exception is cases of abuse or neglect where the state has stepped in and placed the children in foster care. If the biological parent does not participate with the state’s plan to reunite the parents and children, then the state will terminate the parent’s rights and place the children in the states foster care/adoption system. Otherwise, a parent’s rights generally cannot be completely severed due to no contact or not being involved in the child’s life. Further, as a practical matter, if the father’s name is not on the birth certificate, then the father has no proof that he is the child’s father. The father can remedy this by legally establishing his paternity through a process called filiation (See Civ. Code Art. 198). It should be noted that any child born of a mother who is legally married to anyone at the time of birth is legally presumed to be the child of the husband regardless of what the birth certificate says.
Are you faced with a similar situation and don’t know what to do? Contact the Law Offices of Tony Morrow today, we are here to help!