Child Abandonment in North Carolina

3-1024x1024Child Abandonment in North Carolina

About 18.3 million children are living in families without their fathers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That equates to about one in four children in the United States. Most often, it is a father who abandons a child, but a child could also be abandoned by a mother. Abandonment can occur in cases where parents are married, separated, divorced, or unmarried.


What is Child Abandonment?

Both parents have a legal obligation to care for the needs of their children. Child abandonment happens when a parent or legal guardian fails to provide or care for their child. Simply put, abandonment is leaving a person completely and permanently. For instance, if a parent leaves a child in the care of another parent and does not make any effort to stay in contact or provide support, it may be considered abandonment after six months.


Child abandonment is a crime in North Carolina. According to North Carolina law, “Any man or woman who, without cause of justification, willfully abandons his or her child or children for six months and who willfully fails or refuses to provide adequate means of support of his or her child or children during the six months’ period, and who attempts to conceal his or her whereabouts…shall be punished as a Class I felon.”


Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Can any attorney help me with my family law needs in North Carolina?”


What Qualifies as Abandonment in North Carolina?

Abandonment occurs when a parent abandons a child for six months or more, refuses or fails to pay child support while they are away, or attempts to hide their location in an attempt to avoid paying child support. Abandonment is a serious concern because it prevents children from being properly cared for and receiving the support and love they deserve. A parent may seek to request the termination of parental rights due to abandonment.child-1437361


Can a Parent Lose Parental Rights Due to Abandonment?

Under normal circumstances, a parent can only give up their parental rights if they agree to do so voluntarily. A parent who abandons or neglects their child could be at risk of losing their parental rights involuntarily. There are a variety of circumstances that could cause you to lose parental rights. Some of these include:

  • Abandon the child for at least six consecutive months.
  • Abandon an infant for a period of 30 consecutive days.
  • A court deemed that you abandoned the child.
  • The child was placed in foster care or DSS custody for six or more months.

The other parent may request that the other parent lose their parental rights because they abandoned the child. The parent must provide evidence supporting the abandonment. If that happens, the parent no longer has any parental obligations and no further rights.


Guidance From an Experienced Attorney

Child abandonment is a serious concern. If you are a parent of a child who has been abandoned, you may wish to take action to prevent further problems. If you are an absentee parent, you will want to know your rights and learn how to resolve the matter if you do not want to lose your child. To learn more, contact us at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at (704) 370-2828.





The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.



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