Abandonment is the deliberate action by a parent to leave his or her child behind or the refusal to assume parental responsibilities from the outset of the child's life. The parent bringing the lawsuit has to show that the non-consenting biological parent has disregarded his parental duties toward the child and permanently intends to do so.
Proving abandonment is much easier if the non-consenting parent has vanished for a period of six months or greater. In situations where the non-consenting parent's whereabouts have been unknown for a year or more, courts are very likely to grant a step-parent the right to adopt a child even if consent has not been given by the absent parent.
Most states have time requirements for a showing of abandonment. The most common such requirement is proving that the abandonment existed for a year or more. However, some states' time requirements depend on the age of the child to be adopted.
Non-consenting parents may be able to raise claims in defense that:
- He or she maintained a satisfactory relationship with the child;
- Adequate support was provided for the child;
- Any surrender of custody of the child was temporary and in the best interests of the child;
- His or her place of work or residence prevented visitation;
- There was no intent to abandon the child.
Because of the complexity of the adoption process, it may be wise to consult with a family lawyer. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney will help you understand your rights and obligations. Additionally, you will have a greater chance of proving abandonment with an attorney's assistance.
This painful reality of your child's abandonment can often be drastically minimized by having your spouse adopt his or her stepchild. For many, adoption psychologically completes the parent-child relationship for both the natural parent, spouse, and his or her stepchild and provides the child with a fundamentally improved sense of security and a belonging family unit.
Contact an adoption attorney at James Piedimonte, P.C. today.