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Child Abandonment Laws In Louisiana

Child Abandonment Laws In Louisiana

How Is Child Abandonment Defined In Louisiana?

Child abandonment is a term used to refer to a set of behaviors displayed by parents toward their children. It has different names and can mean different things in different states. In Louisiana, child abandonment is child desertion.

Child desertion happens when “the intentional or criminally negligent exposure of a child under the age of ten years, by a person who has the care, custody, or control of the child, to a hazard or danger against which the child cannot reasonably be expected to protect himself, or the desertion or abandonment of such child, knowing or having reason to believe that the child could be exposed to such hazard or danger.” (Louisiana State Legislature, §93.2.1. Child desertion.)

Abandonment usually refers to physical abandonment—i.e., when a parent takes a child somewhere and leaves them there or leaves a child at home with no intention of returning. In some cases, child abandonment may refer to emotional abandonment. Emotional abandonment is any extreme emotional neglect of a child in which they are deprived of physical contact or emotional support, bonding, or affection for extended periods, often repeatedly.

Child abandonment is considered highly damaging to a child, who may suffer emotional, mental, and sometimes physical harm because 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. It may even disqualify a parent from gaining custody of their child.

What May Constitute Child Abandonment In Louisiana?

In the State of Louisiana, several different behaviors may constitute child endangerment, including:

  • They left the child in the care of another person for 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.
  • They left 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. This is only considered abandonment if the parent intends to abandon the child.
  • They fail to take part in a plan or program to reunite the child and parent.
  • They left the child without identification (i.e., a birth certificate).

How Is Intention To Abandon A Child Proven In Louisiana?

To prove the intention to abandon a child in Louisiana, the court considers several factors, such as:

  1. Failure to communicate with the child or financially maintain contact with the child for six months or longer,
  2. Failure to provide for the child’s basic needs for six months or longer, including food, shelter, and medical care,
  3. Failure to follow a court order or child support order to provide for the child,
  4. Refusal to acknowledge the existence of the child or failure to visit the child for six months or longer, and
  5. Abandonment of the child at a place or with a person from whom they cannot easily retrieve the child.

If any of these above factors are proven in court, the court may order the revocation of parental rights, and the child may be placed for adoption.

Who Can Bring A Child Abandonment Case?

In Louisiana, the following parties have the right to file a child abandonment case:

  • Parents Or Legal Guardians: If a parent or legal guardian has abandoned a child, they can file a case against them to terminate their parental rights and seek custody or support.
  • Other Family Members Or Interested Parties: Family members or individuals interested in a child’s welfare, such as foster parents or close relatives, can file a case for the child’s best interests.
  • Child Protective Services: Child protective services (CPS) are authorized to investigate child abandonment or neglect allegations. If they find enough evidence to support a case, they can file for termination of parental rights, adoption, or other legal actions necessary to safeguard the child’s welfare.

If you suspect a child is being abandoned or neglected, please seek help immediately. Remember that the child’s safety and well-being are paramount, and we are all responsible for protecting them.

How To File For Child Abandonment In Louisiana

Filing for child abandonment in Louisiana is not a decision to take lightly. There is a lot involved and you need to be prepared for a challenging time ahead of you. Here are the steps to take if you decide to file for child abandonment in Louisiana:

  1. Prepare the petition. The petition outlines your reasons for filing for abandonment and asks the court to declare the child abandoned. The petition must provide as much evidence as possible to support your case.
  2. File the petition with the court. The filing of the petition involves paying a fee and submitting it to the clerk of court in your parish.
  3. Serve the respondent. “Serving” means providing them with a copy of the petition and notifying them of the upcoming hearing. You can’t just send them an email or a text message; you’ll need to follow strict guidelines to ensure they receive proper notice.
  4. Attend the hearing and keep hope for the best. The court will review all the evidence at the hearing and make a decision based on what they believe is in the child’s best interest. If the court sides with you, the court will terminate the respondent’s parental rights, and you’ll be on your way to securing custody of the child.

Filing for child abandonment is a stressful and emotionally draining process. But, with help from a qualified child abandonment attorney like Tony Morrow, you can have peace knowing he’s on your side and will do everything in his power to help your case.

Filing For Abandonment Of A Child When The Child’s Father Is Not On The Birth Certificate

Generally, Louisiana law does not provide a means by which the legal relationship between a parent and child can be legally severed or “abandoned.” There are two main exceptions to this rule:

Exception #1:

Suppose there’s an adoption case, and a new parent is ready to replace the biological parent immediately. In this case, a birth 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 Louisiana Children’s Code Art. 1245). A biological parent can also voluntarily surrender their parental rights in an adoption process.

Exception #2:

Say there’s a case of abuse or neglect where the state has stepped in and placed the children in foster care. Suppose also the biological parent does not take part in the state’s plan to reunite them with their children. In that case, the state will terminate the parent’s rights and place the children in the foster care/adoption system.

Otherwise, a parent’s rights generally cannot be severed entirely 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 Louisiana Civ. Code Art. 198). Note 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.

What Happens If Child Abandonment Is Proven?

If a parent is proven to have abandoned their child in court, the court can terminate their parental rights. Terminating their parental rights means that the parent has no parental and custodial say over decisions related to their child. It also means that they cannot petition for custody or even visitation in the future.

People must be aware that decisions to terminate a parent’s parental rights are final and cannot be rescinded or appealed. So, the abandoning parent cannot regain their children through the court. It also means that the abandoning parent cannot be petitioned for custody, child support, or visitation requests by the court.

Contact The Law Office Of Tony Morrow Today

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 child abandonment lawyer 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 Lafayette, LA, area. Let him help you, too — call (337) 240-6697 for a free, personalized consultation today.

The Law Office of Tony Morrow
Tony Morrow Esq

Call Us Now For A Personalized Case Evaluation
(337) 240-6697