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Children are incapable of caring for themselves, obligating parents and other caregivers to provide basic needs, including a home, food, and emotional and financial support. Courts sometimes determine that parents who neglect to provide for their children have effectively abandoned them.

Child abandonment has legal consequences, so parents need to understand Georgia’s laws and how they can impact their parental rights. Anyone facing accusations of child abandonment should speak to a local family law attorney immediately. An Alpharetta child abandonment lawyer at our firm can answer all of your important questions and advise you on your legal rights.

How Does Georgia Law Define Child Abandonment?

While child abandonment is a considered a misdemeanor criminal offense by Official Code of Georgia Annotated §19-10-1, it also factors into many family law cases. Abandonment is characterized by a parent’s failure to provide their child with necessary food, clothing, and shelter for 30 days or more.

Child Support and Child Abandonment

A parent’s failure to pay child support can result in abandonment charges. The custodial parent (i.e., the recipient of child support) can apply for a warrant, and the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the noncustodial parent effectively abandoned their child. It is important to note that a parent accused of abandoning their child has rights.

For instance, they can choose to pay the support immediately or request a probable cause hearing. If the parent facing abandonment charges is a father who believes the child is not biologically his, he can also request that the court order a paternity test. However, parents should not attend a hearing regarding child abandonment without qualified legal representation.

Child Abandonment Leading to the Termination of Parental Rights

Allegations of child abandonment may be brought by the state directly. To prove that a parent abandoned their child, the court must establish that the parent did not pay child support for at least one year, did not communicate with the child for at least one year, or both.

If an Alpharetta court finds that a parent voluntarily and willfully abandoned their child or a pregnant spouse, it can impose severe criminal consequences. Specifically, parents convicted of abandoning their child may face up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, and termination of their parental rights.

Terminating a parent’s rights means they lose their right to contact, visit, or make decisions related to their child. The complete termination of parental rights will end the parent’s custody. Additionally, another person can legally adopt the child without the permission of a parent whose parental rights have been terminated.

A parent who loses their parental rights may still need to pay support for the child, at least until the child is adopted by another party. Parents faced with the termination of their parental rights should contact an Alpharetta child abandonment attorney as soon as possible.

Contact an Alpharetta Child Abandonment Attorney Today

The consequences of a child abandonment conviction are serious and could result in prison time, fines, and the termination of parental rights.  If you are involved in a family law case that involves allegations of child abandonment, it is important to contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible.

When you meet with an Alpharetta child abandonment lawyer from our team, they can advise you on your legal rights, help protect your relationship with your child(ren), and answer all of your important questions. Do not wait to secure the experienced legal representation you deserve, call today.

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