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Child Abandonment and the Law

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 18 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Abandonment Abandonment Social

As much as we as parents would like to convince ourselves that such a problem does not exist, the problem of child abandonment is one that is all too real. For some, the stress and responsibility of being a parent is just too much, and under great emotional stress and turmoil a parent struggling to cope may leave their children unattended.

For others, the responsibility of being a parent – especially at a young age – is too much and the desire to recapture their own lost youth results in a mother or father leaving their child or children alone.

The Law and Child Abandonment

Child abandonment is considered to be the act of leaving of a child on their own without any intention of returning to ensure their safety and wellbeing. It is considered to be among the most serious of offences a parent can commit in relation to their child.

Child abandonment is normally discovered if a child or children are left alone for a long period of time and are observed to be behaving in a manner not normally befitting of their behaviour. This may include the children wandering around the area in which they live at peculiar times, asking others as to the whereabouts of their parent or children misbehaving or causing trouble in order to seek attention.

What Happens if a Child is found to be Abandoned

If a child has been abandoned, the law must step in at once in order to secure their safety. The likeliest course of action is for social services to be called in. They will attempt to contact another family member into whose care the child will be placed. This is deemed a temporary measure initially, but in the cases of child abandonment that have documented, this can become a long-term arrangement, especially if the parent does not return or shows no signs of being able to cope.

In the absence of any other family, the child will be placed in foster care until a family member can be located or until the courts, in conjunction with social services, make a decision as to what course of action should be taken.

What is the Penalty for Child Abandonment?

The penalty for child abandonment is usually a custodial sentence – especially if it is proven beyond any doubt that the parent responsible was of sound mind at the time of the abandonment. Social services, along with the police and local authority, will normally try to establish if there have been any mitigating circumstances that have lead up to the offence occurring, such as a bereavement, signs of emotional distress or the break-up of a marriage or relationship.

If there are signs of such emotional distress, the parent will be required to undergo counselling and also may be instructed to participate in parenting classes while their child is looked after in foster care.

With all parties discussing the circumstances surrounding such abandonment, the parent may be reunited with their children, but may be supervised for a set period of time by social services and welfare officers until it is deemed appropriate to allow them to care for their children unsupervised.

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Hi, I really need help on this. My son is 16 and way out of control. In 2016 of December he assulted me and charges were filed to where he went tojuvenile detention center. After that his dad took him because the judge released him to him solely. After my son was expelled from being in school up there his dad wanted to put him in job Corp. They were income based so I got tricked into signing the papers to enroll him. His dad has not had anything to do with him since and he has purposely gotten himself kicked out of job corp because my son thinks that he doesn't have to obey any rules whatsoever. I am a nervous wreck and I am on disability for being bi-polar as it is. They are now threatening me to come pick him up and if I don't they will file childabandonmentcharges on me! I am married but I will not have a place to live if I take him in again after all the turmoil and issues he had caused the last time he lived at our house. Not to mention that I have a 13 year old daughter I am taking care of too. I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place and I am forced to take my son with me when he is threatening to me and my daughter. I will be living out of my car but if I let them file charges on me I go to jail so it a no win situation.
Lisakitty - 18-Nov-17 @ 7:41 PM
My husband has full sole custody of his daughter, the mother hasn't been in her life for 3 years and 3 months. I was wondering if i could file abandonment charges andim willing to take on the responsibilities for our daughter so i can adopted her. Will this be hard to do or not?
soccer - 18-Nov-17 @ 2:45 PM
Nana - Your Question:
Hello,My son and his girlfriend were staying at my home. They have 2 children and just last week the mother has left and has not tried to come back. My son keeps saying that he doesn't want his children. They are 3 years old and 6 months. I want to take care of them myself but my financial situation is not good. I work a good job with good pay but I have a lot of expenses that I need to take care of. How can I get help if I chose to take care of them?

Our Response:
If the parents agree that you can have care of the children, you should be able to claim the Child Benefit and any Child Tax Credit (assuming your salary is within the limits).Would the parents be prepared to contribute?
LawAndParents - 17-Nov-17 @ 2:50 PM
hello, My son and his girlfriend were staying at my home.They have 2 children and just last week the mother has left and has not tried to come back.My son keeps saying that he doesn't want his children.They are 3 years old and 6 months.I want to take care of them myself but my financial situation is not good.I work a good job with good pay but I have a lot of expenses that I need to take care of. How can I get help if I chose to take care of them?
Nana - 16-Nov-17 @ 5:52 PM
Mt husband has two children to another girl they are ages 13 and 8 years old. we hhad them three nights per week and she has now cut it to 1 night per week.their father has an active role both emotionally and financially in their lives. can we request that he has them 3 nights per week again or has he no rights at all.
emz - 24-Oct-17 @ 10:16 AM
Okay, so I’m not a parent, but I am an uncle and am worried for a situation involving my mother and my nephew. Neither parent seems to care for the child and all all responsibility has fallen upon my mother - but she has no legal rights to co sent to anything etc. The school that my nephew goes to is currently attacking her (she’s an employee there) saying that she is the cause of his bad behaviour and making changes to his routine that other children of staff can follow fine. It got a bit much for her the other day and she left without him (fully intent on going back once she had calmed down), and has just been told that if this happens again, she could be charged with abandonment. The school has the contact details for the father. Based on the above information, could she be charged with abandonment or would this not hold up in court? Is there any advice that you could give, hopefully avoiding court ourselves, as we don’t have the money for it, and truly care for the child, especially as we’ve been looking after him (or having him living with us, along with his mother) since he was born. Many thanks,
Wkirby2 - 16-Oct-17 @ 6:59 PM
AN GOOD FATHER - Your Question:
Hello I am a father who sees his child every week at least once a week and every other weekend, if I can have him more I will, as work allows it as I live alone and pay for every aspect of my life independently I need to work alot. I have always fulfilled my financhal responcabilitystowards my son and paid my ex partner more then is recomended with out fail. I have recently changed jobs and because I will have a gap in my wages I have had to deley a payment to my ex, because of this when I collected my son for an over night stay I was met with abuse and a bag full of cloths and told I will be taking him for the week, I am now not abel to work this week and it will effect my ability to not only pay any future child maintence but to also pay my own bills. my ex is a law on to her own and pics and chooses when I can see my child to what ever suits her. is this child abandoment she has a history with soical services do I have a legal stand point to force residentcy ti my home is this negelect can any one advise?

Our Response:
You should try and resolve this via mediation. If you're unsure of the mother's fitness to parent your child and want to consider a firmer contact arrangement or shared/full residency, you should apply to court using court form C100. The courts may order a CAFCASS report to assess your son's/family circumstances.
LawAndParents - 11-Oct-17 @ 10:48 AM
Shayne - Your Question:
What will happen to the father if he does not comply his obligation especially we have a legal agreement but then he doesn't do his obligation?what case can I file against him?

Our Response:
What obligation? financial support? Contact? Sorry it's not clear.
LawAndParents - 10-Oct-17 @ 10:16 AM
hello i am a father who sees his child every week at least once a week and every other weekend, if i can have him more i will, as work allows it as i live alone and pay for every aspect of my life independently i need to work alot. i have always fulfilled my financhal responcabilitystowards my son and paid my ex partner more then is recomended with out fail. i have recently changed jobs and because i will have a gap in my wages i have had to deley a payment to my ex, because of this when i collected my son for an over night stay i was met with abuse and a bag full of cloths and told i will be taking him for the week, i am now not abel to work this week and it will effect my ability to not only pay any future child maintence but to also pay my own bills. my ex is a law on to her own and pics and chooses when i can see my child to what ever suits her. is this child abandoment she has a history with soical services do i have a legal stand point to force residentcy ti my home is this negelect can any one advise?
AN GOOD FATHER - 9-Oct-17 @ 7:17 PM
what will happen to the father if he does not comply his obligation especially we have a legal agreement but then he doesn't do his obligation?what case can i file against him?
Shayne - 7-Oct-17 @ 3:53 AM
Sms - Your Question:
Can a legal father who has full custody, leave his child with a girlfriend while he works out of town. He recently got a job as a truck driver and is gone for weeks at a time. Is this child abandonment?

Our Response:
No, he has found childcare for the child not abandoned it.
LawAndParents - 4-Oct-17 @ 11:22 AM
Can a legal father who has full custody, leave his child with a girlfriend while he works out of town. He recently got a job as a truck driver and is gone for weeks at a time. Is this child abandonment?
Sms - 2-Oct-17 @ 8:06 PM
LA - Your Question:
My ex husband hasn't made any contact with me or the children for almost 12 months. He does not pay any child maintenance. Apart from a brief period of about 9 months (while he was in a relationship with a relatively stable woman) he has not seen or paid towards the children since we split in 2013. He has 2 other children from other relationships, one has been adopted by her new step father and he has abandoned the other. His name is on my childrens birth certificate. My fiance who has lived with us for over a year, has taken on the role of their father and we would like him to adopt them. I believe my ex husband is now living abroad. If he is somehow tracked down and contests, will this prevent the adoption being granted?

Our Response:
We can't say whether an adoption would be granted. This is for the courts, together with your local authority children's services to decide.
LawAndParents - 27-Sep-17 @ 3:02 PM
My ex husband hasn't made any contact with me or the children for almost 12 months. He does not pay any child maintenance. Apart from a brief period of about 9 months (while he was in a relationship with a relatively stable woman) he has not seen or paid towards the children since we split in 2013. He has 2 other children from other relationships, one has been adopted by her new step father and he has abandoned the other. His name is on my childrens birth certificate. My fiance who has lived with us for over a year, has taken on the role of their father and we would like him to adopt them. I believe my ex husband is now living abroad. If he is somehow tracked down and contests, will this prevent the adoption being granted?
LA - 26-Sep-17 @ 8:29 AM
.hy im readin threw my care files and I come a cross a application for compensation for me and my brother who was abonded ..the claim was disallowed as."neglect of a child is not a crime of violence and hence dose not fall within the scheme.no award.Paragraph 4 (a) of the scheme refers."..??. That dosnt ring well to me..is this right..thank you
keli - 8-Sep-17 @ 12:47 PM
Ad2017 - Your Question:
HiMy stepdaughter has been staying with us for the past 6weeks. She was supposed to stay for a weekend but her mother vanished. We can't reach her at all. She decides when she wants to make contact with us or any other family members. Last time we heard about her she was getting married in another country. My partner and I have never been told about all her plans. Now school resume and we still don't know where she is. Her council flat is empty, her neighbors have not seen or heard from her for several weeks. Can my partner ask for full custody as thery were not married when the child was conceived? Should we involve social services ? The council? The police?,,,Thanks for your help.

Our Response:
Is your partner's name on the birth certificate? If so he has parental responsibility and can apply for residency via the courts. If his name is not on the birth certificate but he is sure he is the biological father, he can apply to the courts for statutory declaration of parentage and therefore gain parental responsibility. He would then be able to apply for a residence order. Yes it's definitely worth contacting social services your step daughter is 16 or under.
LawAndParents - 6-Sep-17 @ 2:35 PM
Hi My stepdaughter has been staying with us for the past 6weeks. She was supposed to stay for a weekend but her mother vanished. We can't reach her at all. She decides when she wants to make contact with us or any other family members. Last time we heard about her she was getting married in another country.My partner and I have never been told about all her plans. Now school resume and we still don't know where she is. Her council flat is empty, her neighbors have not seen or heard from her for several weeks. Can my partner ask for full custody as thery were not married when the child was conceived? Should we involve social services ? The council? The police?,,, Thanks for your help.
Ad2017 - 5-Sep-17 @ 1:43 AM
User- Your Question:
Can a parent out their child into care? Will social services allow it?I can no longer cope and struggling severely. I have such negative feelings towards my child and as time progresses I am beginning to hate him.

Our Response:
Speak to someone, there is help out there that you can consider before this step.Can you start by asking your health visitor for advice or your GP may be able refer you to organisations that might help. You could also try contact support organisations like Home Start
Gingerbread
or
Family Lives
LawAndParents - 27-Jul-17 @ 12:47 PM
Can a parent out their child into care? Will social services allow it? I can no longer cope and struggling severely. I have such negative feelings towards my child and as time progresses I am beginning to hate him.
User - 23-Jul-17 @ 9:30 PM
My daughters dad has been out Of the picture not for nearly a year and a half could I get his rights terminated? I have no clue where he is and he has blocked me on all social media accounts and mobile numbers. We did mediation before and he failed to show up I have messages from a year an a half ago stating he was going to kill me and threatining behaviour. What can I do??? Please help. He IS on the birth certificate and she has his last name. I want this changed if possible
Jlx - 10-Jul-17 @ 8:33 PM
Lucille - Your Question:
Hi I'm wanting to change my son's name his dad has not seen him for nearly 8 years and to do it by deed poll I still need his dad's consent is there any other way I can do this thank you

Our Response:
You will need to apply directly to the General Register Office. If you can prove that you do not know the whereabouts of your son's father they may be willing to do it without a court order. If a court order is needed it is form C100.
LawAndParents - 5-Jul-17 @ 11:59 AM
Hi I'm wanting to change my son's name his dad has not seen him for nearly 8 years and to do it by deed poll I still need his dad's consent is there any other way I can do this thank you
Lucille - 4-Jul-17 @ 5:19 PM
Jobin - Your Question:
Hi, I recently lost my son and his ex-girlfriend struggles to raise our grandchildren by her self.She has agreed to me helping her, as I always have and we often have them overnight and for holidays etc.What is the best way forward - could I get joint parental responsibility with her consent?I'm not looking for them to live with me - just to safeguard them should anything happen.

Our Response:
You can arrange for a Parental Responsibility Agreement to be signed you and the children's mother.
LawAndParents - 3-Jul-17 @ 2:48 PM
Hi my name is amarjeet i am 17 yrs oldi am facing problems with family. They dont behave gud with me. They always prefer my small brother as a gud one and better one. I am being neglicted. He is small but he is strongerthnme so he tease bully me and parents take his side .whenever they are talking ,if i come they stop talking and say let him go. They dint treat me as a family.i dont want to live with them.
Amar - 3-Jul-17 @ 10:27 AM
Hi, I recently lost my son and his ex-girlfriend struggles to raise our grandchildren by her self. She has agreed to me helping her, as I always have and we often have them overnight and for holidays etc. What is the best way forward - could I get joint parental responsibility with her consent? I'm not looking for them to live with me - just to safeguard them should anything happen.
Jobin - 3-Jul-17 @ 9:58 AM
My Son was shared 50 50 with my ex until I found 9 caught him out) that he had left him at home alone aged 6. My son was ill in bed at the time. I took my son home and through mediation after a year my ex sees him every other weekend in supervised situations and in public spaces such as cinemas, bowling , parks and playdates with other families. Never overnight! It came to light that the incident was one of many times my Son had been left on his own and I am not sure how young he was when it first happened. I have been amicable for my sons sake but now I have been hit once more with a letter from a solicitor wanting everything to go back to 50/50. I never got a reason for him leaving him alone other than him being a bit depressed. I am not prepared for things to go back to shared custody until Tom is old enough to be left alone and make his own decisions. Will I have to go though court to make this happen. I feel I have already let him have so much as in most break ups the custody is not 50/50 and every fortnight is a norm.
meem - 21-Jun-17 @ 6:41 PM
Hi my step son has been staying with us this weekend and he was supposed to be collected on Monday but his mother asked for us to have him one more day. We agreed to this but now his mother has vanished we can't get intouch with her and she hasnt turned up to collect her son. We haven't heard from her since Friday when she dropped him off and was more concerned about getting drunk this weekend then anything else. We're do we stand as I can't keep dropping hours in work as and when it suits her to come for her child.
Kkl81 - 30-May-17 @ 8:29 PM
Reethu - Your Question:
My daughter has fallen in love we don't like the guy but now she is graduating in a college she 21 years old and if we sent her out of the house what rights she can claim from us. she says she won't get married untill she finish studying.if we sent her out if she doesn't listen to our words do we have to pay for her education untill she is married.And can she claim the rights in my self accquired property while I am alive for her education

Our Response:
Most children lose the right to support from their parents at the age of 16 or 18 if they're studying up to A level standard. After that they are adults.
LawAndParents - 22-May-17 @ 12:34 PM
My daughter has fallen in love we don't like the guy but now she is graduating in a college she 21 years old and if we sent her out of the house what rights she can claim from us. she says she won't get married untill she finish studying .if we sent her out if she doesn't listen to our words do we have to pay for her education untill she is married.And can she claim the rights in my self accquired property while i am alive for her education
Reethu - 21-May-17 @ 2:05 PM
What can be done to redress the situation of children who are abandoned abroad by their single parent mother. without the awareness of social services.What can be done if the situation is either historic or in the present?
Lacey - 12-May-17 @ 8:48 PM
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