- by Ryan Proctor
Children depend on their parents to provide for their needs, and parents have a legal duty to support their offspring. In addition to a parent’s legal duty to provide for their child, it is generally in a child’s best interest to have both parents play an active, engaged role in their lives.
Unfortunately, the Kids Count Data Center reports that more than a quarter of all children in the United States are raised by a single mother or father, having little interaction with or support from their other parent.
A parent failing to provide for their child may be considered to have abandoned them by failing to provide child support or visit with the child. Parents who abandon their children can be held accountable through the family court. In the state of Georgia, not providing food, clothing, and shelter for minor children is, in some circumstances, potentially illegal. The abandoning parent could face criminal charges as a result.
Child Custody Abandonment
A parent may opt to abandon the child early in their life. They may not be listed on the child’s birth certificate, and there may be a lack of information about them, such as their location, employer, or earning capacity. In these types of child custody abandonment cases, your attorney can assist you in locating the missing parent so that appropriate legal proceedings can be initiated.
In addition to establishing contact, legal proceedings can help ensure your child has access to important health records and insurance coverage, and determine if the child may be eligible for other benefits, such as those available through Social Security or the Veterans Administration.
If a parent has had an extended absence from the child’s life, reunification with the absentee parent could be traumatic for the child. Appropriate therapy may be needed to ease this transition and see that the child’s best interests are protected.
Child Support Abandonment
Child abandonment can also occur when a parents fails or refuses to provide for the child’s financial support.
When a parent is in arrears of a court-ordered child support obligation, you may be able to have wages, benefits, and other earnings garnished to be applied to any outstanding child support payments.
The Fulton County Court advises that an abandonment warrant can be issued against the non-custodial parent if they have gone 30 days or more without providing ‘necessaries’ such as food, clothing, or shelter for the child. Penalties upon conviction include fines of up to $1,000 and up to 12 months incarceration.
Unfortunately, you cannot compel an unwilling person to be a good parent. If a non-custodial parent refuses to live up to their parenting responsibilities, your best option is to speak with a qualified attorney to determine what options are available to you and to decide on an appropriate course of action. Sadly, in some situations, there may be no viable options, or it may be best to take no action.
Let Us Help You Today
When dealing with sensitive matters pertaining to the care and support of your children, Stearns, Montgomery & Proctor provide the aggressive legal representation you need. Reach out and contact our Georgia child custody and support attorneys today to see how we can assist you.