Child Abandonment Laws

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What Is Child Abandonment?

Child abandonment may be defined as any instance when a parent deserts the child or disregards the child’s safety, health, and welfare. This can occur through a direct act with the intent of fully, physically abandoning the child. Alternatively, it can also occur indirectly, such as when a parent fails to properly provide for a child who is living with them.

Thus, child abandonment often has overlap with other charges related to child welfare, such as child neglect or child endangerment. Child abandonment can be extended to anyone who has legal custody of a child, including guardians.

What Are Some Examples of Child Abandonment?

Child abandonment can occur through many different actions (or failure to take certain actions). Some examples of child abandonment include:

Thus, child abandonment often overlaps with other areas of law such as child custody and visitation, as well as child support laws.

What Are the Legal Penalties for Child Abandonment?

Child abandonment is a crime and a person who engages in child abandonment may face criminal charges for doing so. Penalties for child abandonment may vary by state, since some states classify child abandonment as a misdemeanor, while some jurisdictions might file it as a felony charge. Generally speaking, the defendant may face criminal fines plus some jail time for child abandonment.

In addition, the person may face additional criminal charges and/or civil consequences if the child dies or is seriously injured as a result of the abandonment.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Child Abandonment Violations?

Child abandonment is a very serious crime and can place the child or children in a very dangerous situation.  You may need to hire a criminal lawyer if you or a loved one of yours are involved in a situation involving child abandonment. Your attorney can inform you of your legal rights under the laws of your state. Also, if you need to make an appearance in a court of law, your lawyer can be there to guide you and represent you during the process.

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Last Modified: 08-10-2015 12:16 PM PDT

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