Child abandonment laws


Child abandonment law imposes various penalties on parents who abandon their children. The abandoning of a child occurs when a child is left by their parent/guardian, without the intention of returning to the child to ensure they are safe and well.

Under child abandonment law a parent can face a custodial sentence if convicted of abandoning their child.

Focus of child abandonment laws

Child abandonment laws are the legal rules which relate to a parent’s act of leaving his or her child without making appropriate arrangements for the child’s well-being and without the intention of returning.

Child abandonment law can be a very contentious area of the law. If you require any assistance on this subject then you should contact a specialist. This is an area of family law, and a family law solicitor can help you with all aspects including:

  • Seeking to taking care of an abandoned child
  • Seeking to recover full-time care of your child if your child has been put into care by the courts following abandonment

Child abandonment laws give rise to criminal liability and a parent who is found guilty of the offence is likely to receive a prison term. However, because of the considerable emotional distress such a crime is usually associated with, the parent is often found not to be of sound mind at the time of abandonment and, as a result, a prison sentence is often not given.

Local authorities and child abandonment

Child abandonment laws also cover the procedures local authorities follow once an abandoned child is discovered. The police are usually called and they in turn call social services who are in charge of finding a suitable home for the child. In many cases the child’s extended family is notified and the child is placed with them on a temporary basis.

Often these end up being permanent solutions.

What to do if you suspect a child has been abandoned

If a child or children are found to be abandoned, government authorities must intervene to ensure the safety of the child. In most cases, social services step in to take care of the child. Social services will normally make attempts to check if the child has any relatives that the child can stay with temporarily.

Child abandonment law also allows for abandoned children to be adopted by foster parents. Foster parents are couples or individuals who wish to take legal parental responsibility of children in need. When a child is abandoned, both social services and the courts determine what is best for the child.

If you are aware of an abandoned child or you think someone you know is likely to abandon their child, it is important to notify the authorities as soon as possible. A parent that abandons his or her child is likely to be under a lot of stress, or experiencing deep emotional issues.

If you are worried about the legal implications of your actions, or the actions of the parent, it is best to speak with a family solicitor about the matter.

For further advice on family law issues affecting children, see our information page on child law.

Are you concerned that a child has been abandoned and are unsure who to inform? Are you being pursued for child abandonment by the Social Services? Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist family law solicitor who can represent your needs and try to reach a fair outcome. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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