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What Is Child Abandonment?

 Posted on July 13, 2017 in Family Law

DuPage County family lawyersUnder Illinois law, a child has the right to support from both parents. Sometimes, however, one or both parents effectively choose to abandon their child. When this happens, measures must be taken to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. If the other parent has spouse has abandoned or shown a pattern of disinterest in your child, you may be able to pursue full custodial rights.

Abandonment Need Not Be Malicious

It is important to understand that even with the best of parental intentions, a child may be ruled to have been abandoned if they are left for more than a 24 hour period without the supervision of someone at least 14 years of age. The underlying reason might be in good faith—a parent having to work, for example, and being unable to find alternative child care - but the statute still may criminalize the behavior if enough evidence exists to do so. Regardless of the justification, a potential for harm to the child has been created and may necessitate action

There are situations where a child may be surrendered without it being ruled abandonment, however. The most common scenarios fall under the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act or the Illinois Adoption Act, both of which allow a parent to surrender their child to a safe person or place if they reasonably believe they are unable to provide for the child in the way they are required to by law. However, most of the time, a parent will be charged with child abandonment if a child is left to their own devices without supervision.

Factors Considered By the Courts

There is a comprehensive list of factors used by judges to determine whether a child has truly been abandoned. The Illinois Criminal Code lists many of them, including the child’s age, whether or not they were left with food or instructions on what to do in an emergency, the existence of any intellectual, physical or developmental disability on the child’s part, and just how far away and/or unavailable the parental figure was and for how long. No one factor is necessarily more important than the others, but a combination of several may result in a ruling of abandonment.

It is also important that even if a parent is not found guilty of child abandonment, he or she may still face charges of child neglect, which does come up under the state’s Parental Responsibility Act. Abandonment, especially if it occurs routinely, can be characterized as neglect, and while incidents may lead to the children being placed in a foster home or counseling, extreme cases may result in suspension or termination of parental rights.

Seek Knowledgeable Assistance

Any good parent wants to do the best for their children, and that includes wanting to make sure they are well cared for and supervised. Sometimes, however, unusual circumstances might occur. If you are under investigation for child abandonment or if you believe your spouse should be, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C., today.


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