What Constitutes Child Abandonment in CA?July 9, 2022
In California, child abandonment can be a criminal and civil issue. The state has several laws that protect the safety and best interests of children and the consequences for violating them.
If a parent fails to take their parental responsibilities seriously or place their kids in harm’s way, they risk having their parental rights terminated. When this happens, the parent can no longer decide on issues related to raising their child, and all their parental obligations and rights will be terminated. In addition, depending on the specific circumstances, the parent may also face costly fines and even jail time.
The termination of rights is permanent unless the parent meets immensely stringent standards to reverse the order. Likewise, appealing the termination only applies if your child doesn’t get adopted after your rights have been terminated. Termination typically comes up in cases involving abandonment, adoption, or situations in which the child isn’t safe with their parent.
What Exactly is Child Abandonment?
Child abandonment is a crucial factor when courts decide on whether to terminate a parent’s rights to their child. Essentially, if a parent left their child with a non-parent for at least six months or with the child’s other parent for at least a year without child support or contact, that constitutes child abandonment.
Under the California Family Code, child abandonment occurs when a legal guardian, parent, or another individual that has legal custody of a child:
- Acts irresponsibly or without regard for the child’s safety, physical health, or welfare and intentionally leaves a child younger than 13 years old without supervision by a responsible individual that’s at least 15 years old.
- Fails to visit or make contact with the child.
- Fails to provide the child with reasonable support.
More specific examples that may result in child abandonment charges can include:
- Not making any or enough effort to communicate with and support the child.
- Leaving the child with another individual without providing support and without communicating with the child for a certain time period.
- Not participating in an appropriate program or plan developed to reunite the child with their parent or legal guardian.
- Failure to regularly visit the child for six months.
- Unwillingness to provide love, supervision, care, or support for the child.
- Failure to respond to any notice from Child Protective Services (CPS).
- Leaving a child at home for a time period that resulted in a significant risk of severe harm to the child.
- Leaving a baby on a random doorstep, on the roadside, or in dumpsters or trash cans.
Consult with a Seasoned California Family Law Attorney Today
Whether you are defending yourself against a petition to terminate your parental rights or are considering a petition for termination against your child’s other parent, the seasoned California family law attorney of Bamieh & De Smeth can assist you. You can find out more about your legal rights and options by setting up a free case evaluation with our California family law attorney. Send us a message online or reach us by phone at 805-643-5555 for more details.