Children count on their parents to provide for their daily needs which includes creating a safe home. Many courts have interpreted that it is often in the best interests of children for both parents to play an active role in the child’s life. Statistics, however, reveal that more than a quarter of all children in the United States are raised by one parent and have little support from the other parent. Parents who fail to provide for a child are considered to have abandoned the child and can be held accountable in family court. It is critical that all parents in Georgia understand how the state treats cases of abandonment.
Georgia Law Regarding Child Abandonment
In accordance with Georgia law found at O.C.G.A. sec. 19-10-1, Child abandonment in the state of Georgia is classified as a misdemeanor offense that results in a $1,000 fine and a maximum of 12 months in prison. If the parent leave the state, the parent can end up facing a felony charge that has the potential to result in up to three years in prison. This offense comprises any situation in which a parent fails to provide sufficient clothing, food, or shelter to a child for 30 days. This means that if you leave your spouse with your children, there is a risk that you will be found guilty of causing child abandonment. Abandonment extends to situations in which a partner knows that the other partner is pregnant. In abandonment cases, the state of Georgia is required to show that the abandoning person did so willfully and voluntarily. When one spouse is pregnant, the other spouse must be aware of the pregnancy.
Georgia allows a custodial parent to charge a noncustodial parent with abandonment if he or she stops paying child support. To file an abandonment warrant against a person, the caretaker or custodial parent of the minor child must apply for the warrant in the county warrant office where he or she lives. After applying for a warrant, a hearing will be scheduled during which time a judge will determine whether abandonment has occurred. During the hearing, the person who is accused of abandonment can request a probable cause hearing, choose to pay child support immediately, or if the accused is the father, he can also request a paternity test. The state of Georgia is also able to initiate abandonment charges if a child is discovered to be abandoned.
When Termination of Parental Rights is Used
The termination of parental rights ends a parent’s legal rights to a child as well as the parent’s legal relationship to a child. While there are several reasons why parental rights in Georgia are terminated, an absent parent who has not paid child support or communicated with a child for a year or longer is viewed as having abandoned the child and will have parental rights terminated.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you are involved with matters related to the care and support of your children, Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. will remain committed to fighting for the compensation you deserve. Contact our law office to schedule an initial free consultation.