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Child Abandonment and the Law

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 22 Mar 2018 | 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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My daughterleft me her 14 month old 10 years ago never cameback doesn't care about her or to visit her I have had her ever since what legallyrights do I have My granddaughter isnowgoing to be 11 years old
Tahle - 22-Mar-18 @ 3:36 AM
My son was at school and got sick and the school tried contacting me and my ex-husband and we were both either in meetings or in class and it was 2 or 3 hours before we could call the school back. The principal threatened us that it was child abandonment and that she was going to call DHS if we didn't come and pick him up right away. Is she right? We live in Oregon County School
Mom3 - 14-Mar-18 @ 11:21 PM
Yamyam - Your Question:
I was accused of child abandonment how do I prove that I did not abandon my children, I went yo work before the baby sitter reached my home she was 2 minutes away but wanted to get a bread before reaching my home

Our Response:
You haven't said how old your children were? What has the baby sitter said? Sorry there's not enough information for us to comment really.
LawAndParents - 13-Feb-18 @ 3:36 PM
I was accused of child abandonment how do I prove that I did not abandon my children, I went yo work before the baby sitter reached my home she was 2 minutes away but wanted to get a bread before reaching my home
Yamyam - 12-Feb-18 @ 5:57 PM
Lugia - Your Question:
I left my 10 year old with a close friend of mine while I try to clear my head and get my place in order social brought an abandonment order on me what can I do

Our Response:
It might be worth trying to get some individual advice from an organisation like Family Lives. Their helpline is at FamilyLives.org.uk
LawAndParents - 12-Feb-18 @ 1:55 PM
Kala - Your Question:
As my previous question of partners child left for 4/5 weeks. My partner has decided to take his boy back to his mother, we are not seeming to help the situation ! The mother will not talk on the phone to the boy and he is very distressed ! I'm hoping this will bring the situation to a head. We have been into school but have Been offered no help they are not willing to open up a meeting between mother and my partner ! This situation is awful for the boy and he is very distressed I have contacted social services in rochdale but they have offered nothing but a phone number ! I'm afraid she will actually say to the boy that she doesn't want him ! I think he will end up doing something silly !

Our Response:
Would it be easier to simply provide a loving, supportive home with you for the time being. Assure him that you will help to resolve the problem and offer help to repair the relationship with the mother in any way you can.Try Citizens' Advice for local organisations that can mediate or help with situations like that. We're sorry we can't offer any more concrete advice than this. Please do let us know how you get on. If any readers have experienced this please do post here.
LawAndParents - 12-Feb-18 @ 10:23 AM
I left my 10 year old with a close friend of mine while i try to clear my head and get my place in order social brought an abandonment order on me what can i do
Lugia - 9-Feb-18 @ 10:08 PM
As my previous question of partners child left for 4/5 weeks. My partner has decided to take his boy back to his mother, we are not seeming to help the situation ! The mother will not talk on the phone to the boy and he is very distressed ! I'm hoping this will bring the situation to a head. We have been into school but have Been offered no help they are not willing to open up a meeting between mother and my partner ! This situation is awful for the boy and he is very distressed I have contacted social services in rochdale but they have offered nothing but a phone number ! I'm afraid she will actually say to the boy that she doesn't want him ! I think he will end up doing something silly !
Kala - 9-Feb-18 @ 12:50 PM
Kala - Your Question:
My partners boy was dropped off 4 weeks ago all we have gotten from the mother is abusive text ! The child is in bits he and my partner have had little or no contact for the last 14 years he is 15 now, mother and son are not communicating well and she is playing mind games with him , and it's just making the boy withdrawn and very sad, I'm concerned for his mental health ! I have contacted social services and all they did was give me a phone number. his mother will not go to mediation! Can I force the issue, can I take the boy back to his mum ? In the hope that it will make them talk !

Our Response:
Is he at school? Can you talk to welfare staff/tutor etc? They often know of resources that are available in situations like this. 14 year old boys can be difficult to cope with as a mother/single parent and he may not realise the impact of his behaviour etc.
LawAndParents - 7-Feb-18 @ 3:26 PM
My partners boy was dropped off 4 weeks ago all we have gotten from the mother is abusive text ! The child is in bits he and my partner have had little or no contact for the last 14 years he is 15 now, mother and son are not communicating well and she is playing mind games with him , and it's just making the boy withdrawn and very sad, I'm concerned for his mental health ! I have contacted social services and all they did was give me a phone number ... his mother will not go to mediation! Can I force the issue, can I take the boy back to his mum ? In the hope that it will make them talk !
Kala - 7-Feb-18 @ 7:51 AM
Kimberley - Your Question:
My daughter’s father hasn’t seen her for 3 years. The last conversation I had with him was him telling me he didn’t want to see her anymore. I haven’t spoken to him since. He doesn’t pay maintenance (which I don’t want). He is on her birth certificate as her father. Is there a point when he loses his rights? She has his surname, I would like to chnage it back to mine but I know if I asked he would say no out of spite and to be difficult. Is there a point when he no longer has rights and I can do this without his permission? Thanks

Our Response:
No, you would have to apply to the courts and tell them that he has no contact/you don't know his whereabouts etc.
LawAndParents - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:13 PM
My daughter’s father hasn’t seen her for 3 years. The last conversation I had with him was him telling me he didn’t want to see her anymore. I haven’t spoken to him since. He doesn’t pay maintenance (which I don’t want). He is on her birth certificate as her father. Is there a point when he loses his rights? She has his surname, I would like to chnage it back to mine but I know if I asked he would say no out of spite and to be difficult. Is there a point when he no longer has rights and I can do this without his permission? Thanks
Kimberley - 2-Feb-18 @ 8:46 PM
9 years ago my ex left to go on holiday for a week said bye to the children aged 12,4,3 and said he see them the following week, however he never did, he moved abroad and hasn’t seen the kids since, he made his brother power of attorney over our joint house,after a lot of hassle his sister had him sign a form to say that he is only entitled to X amount out of house and no more,he has never paid a penny towards house or children. For the past 9 years I have saved and tried buying him out, also put house on market got a buyer and the brother argued and messed about till the buyer lost interest, i then took on a 2nd job so I could go back to Bank and be allowed to take mortgage on by myself, I got it last March and since then they have said their going to sign it over but haven’t and have now stopped answering calls/letters from the conveyers, phoned a few solicitors with no good garentee of outcome in kids favour, I’m thinking about taking the brother to small claims court and sueing him for blocking every attempt to move on, any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
Sara - 22-Jan-18 @ 2:49 PM
Hi, I’m Stefan and I’m 16 atm, I used to live in Manchester UK, I’ve lived there for about 4years now, last Friday my mum told me I was goin to (x country) for a week bc I’m supposed to sign some papers because I’m originally from (x country) So obviously I answered with a sure , So she told me I was goin next day to a different country for a week, now I’m here in (x country) my auntie picked me up from the airport when I arrived , now my auntie is leaving , and my mum said she ain’t gonna bring me back , apparently I can’t leave my original country without my mum signing some documents to allow me to leave the country because I’m under 18, so now I see myself in a completely different country where I barely understand the language , without money ,or anything , I’m supposed to attend school as usual tomorrow in England , I’m in yr 11 on my last year with 4 months till my GCSEs and my mums abandoned me here, she said there are a lot of orphans out there and homeless people out there so I should manage too , she was the only parent I had bc my dad died when I was 3 months old , so now my life’s ruined , I lost all my studies , I lost my home , I lost my mum , I’ve lost everything and I can’t even be home
Stefan - 21-Jan-18 @ 11:01 PM
Kiyara - Your Question:
I’m 31 years old and my husband whom now I am separated to is 35 years old , this is kind of a different view than I think others have stated , but I have 2 daughters 2-3 years old whom are in my full care and I would cross mountains for them both , their father cheated with many woman and I asked for a divorce and he moved out on the agreement that he would keep his children at the top of his priorities , and yet he comes and goes as he likes mentally hurting his daughters but his 3 year old has been mostly effected , last time he seen then he spent 3 different weekends with one daughter or the other never together and in a span of 6 months only that’s 6 visits in 6 months , my daughter asks for her dad all the time and her routine and sleep patterns become in organized when her dad does come and then leaves for a few months again , he’s not really working he’s on disability but is fully capable of bth mentally and physically maintaining a relationship with his kids , and yet he would rather the freedom without them , which is not fair to them it hurts them and in that it hurts me to see them be hurt by him emotionally , do they have any laws that can bring my daughters justice , it is child abandonment , even though I have them he should not be allowed to just neglect his duty and responsibilities as a father , we were married and not young either , I was 28 he was 32 he knew kids would be in the marriage at a point if I could be charged with it , even though I could never leave their side then why can’t he even though I am fully taking care of them , I’m only asking because it breaks my heart to see my daughter even try to call her dad on the phone and he ignores every time.

Our Response:
No unfortunately there is not much that can be done here unless you can get someone else to talk to him and get him to see the effect his behaviour is having on his children.
LawAndParents - 15-Jan-18 @ 2:57 PM
I’m 31 years old and my husband whom now I am separated to is 35 years old , this is kind of a different view than I think others have stated , but I have 2 daughters 2-3 years old whom are in my full care and I would cross mountains for them both , their father cheated with many woman and I asked for a divorce and he moved out on the agreement that he would keep his children at the top of his priorities , and yet he comes and goes as he likes mentally hurting his daughters but his 3 year old has been mostly effected , last time he seen then he spent 3 different weekends with one daughter or the other never together and in a span of 6 months only that’s 6 visits in 6 months , my daughter asks for her dad all the time and her routine and sleep patterns become in organized when her dad does come and then leaves for a few months again , he’s not really working he’s on disability but is fully capable of bth mentally and physically maintaining a relationship with his kids , and yet he would rather the freedom without them , which is not fair to them it hurts them and in that it hurts me to see them be hurt by him emotionally , do they have any laws that can bring my daughters justice , it is child abandonment , even though I have them he should not be allowed to just neglect his duty and responsibilities as a father , we were married and not young either , I was 28 he was 32 he knew kids would be in the marriage at a point if I could be charged with it , even though I could never leave their side then why can’t he even though I am fully taking care of them , I’m only asking because it breaks my heart to see my daughter even try to call her dad on the phone and he ignores every time .
Kiyara - 12-Jan-18 @ 5:20 PM
Hi ned so advise my bother went to see is kids what happen was I ex walk out on them when the were baby's so the family help he when to court and got a residence order anywhere he got by with her coz of the kids but they move away however she start going out all time roll in at 5am and stop out so he move back to mum he didn't take the kids coz they were happy in school etc (he put the kids first ) however he finds out she sill out all time and leve the with a man ( he not rite in the head big kid come to mine) she as had her old kid taken off her she live on the next road on from my mum house she lied to the court now say he can see them only on a Sundayat this place noing he work on them day he not had a job for over 17 year but he got a job for is kids were dose he sand it's killing him not see them and us as family all they family on both Sadi live 2 hours way
Matt - 6-Jan-18 @ 10:10 AM
Joe - Your Question:
Hi there. We have had our children taken off from us by our friend who has now taken the law into her hands. Basically what happened was we had been going through a rough patch in our marriage and she thought that it was a good Idea to take the kids while we were sorting our life's out. So she has now involved the Social Services and also set up child protection meeting and in additional to that she's not letting us see our children. I need advice on what to do as now we are resolved but she's not letting the kids talk or see us. We have not received any non contact letters from the courts or anything. Please advise. Many thanks.

Our Response:
Contact social services yourself, explain what the issue is and tell them you want your children living back with you. If they are already involved, they should be able to tell you what happens next.
LawAndParents - 5-Jan-18 @ 12:02 PM
Hi there. We have had our children taken off from us by our friend who has now taken the law into her hands. Basically what happened was we had been going through a rough patch in our marriage and she thought that it was a good Idea to take the kids while we were sorting our life's out. So she has now involved the Social Services and also set up child protection meeting and in additional to that she's not letting us see our children. I need advice on what to do as now we are resolved but she's not letting the kids talk or see us. We have not received any non contact letters from the courts or anything. Please advise. Many thanks.
Joe - 2-Jan-18 @ 10:47 PM
Mik - Your Question:
I had an arrangement with my expartner that my 3 chidren stay with me every second Saturday because I no longer have my own house and are living with my parents temporarily. My children will turn up on a day that they are not suppose to stay. Sometimes with no clothes. The mother will be contacted via phone several times and she will ignore the phone call, so my children will stay with me. On several occasions the children have been unable to contact their mother until Monday evening as a result they have missed school because they have no clothes and school uniform to go to school. The children will also turn up at my house in the week with no arrangements put in place. The unexpected visits are becoming an impediment because we have to postpone any plans to care for the children. I'm also paying CSA monthly and their does not use the money in the correct way so I have to keep buying the children items , bus fare, lunch money. Is this ongoing issues classed as abandonment

Our Response:
Perhaps you could apply for a court order to have the children on a more permanent basis? CSA payments would be lower if you had the children overnight more regularly than every second Saturday so that might help with clothing etc. If the mother is neglecting the children as you suggest, then social services might be able to offer you some advice too.
LawAndParents - 2-Jan-18 @ 11:24 AM
I had an arrangement with my expartner thatmy 3 chidren staywith me every secondSaturday because I no longer have my own house and are living with my parents temporarily.My children willturn up on a daythattheyare not suppose to stay. Sometimes with no clothes . The mother will be contactedvia phone several times and she will ignore the phone call, somy children will staywith me. On several occasionsthe children have been unable tocontacttheir motheruntil Monday eveningas a result they have missed schoolbecause theyhave no clothes and school uniformto go to school. The children willalso turn up at my house in the weekwithno arrangements put in place. Theunexpected visitsare becoming an impedimentbecausewe havetopostponeany plans tocare for the children. I'm also paying CSAmonthlyand their does not use themoneyin the correct way so I have tokeep buying the childrenitems , bus fare, lunch money . Isthis ongoing issues classed as abandonment
Mik - 24-Dec-17 @ 3:38 AM
soccer - Your Question:
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 and im willing to take on the responsibilities for our daughter so I can adopted her. Will this be hard to do or not?

Our Response:
You will need to apply for an adoption order via the courts, but first you must inform your local authority of your wish to do. This needs to be done at least 3 months before applying to court. The social worker at the adoption agency (local authority) will carry out an assessment similar to a normal adoption which will be passed to the court. The assessment report will contain information about your partner, his child and the the mother.
LawAndParents - 22-Nov-17 @ 2:48 PM
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
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