How a Child Abandonment Charge Can Impact Your Custody Agreement

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 03, 2024 | 0 Comments

Child abandonment is a serious allegation that can wreak havoc on your custody agreement, from limiting visitation to termination of parental rights. Most cases of child abandonment are more complicated than they seem. Often, child abandonment claims are ultimately found to be misunderstandings or consequences of a more significant personal issue that can be addressed with assistance. If you're facing a situation involving child abandonment or are concerned about how it may affect your custody agreement, contact the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.  

What is Child Abandonment? 

Under New Jersey Law, child abandonment occurs when anyone having custody or control of a child commits any of the following acts:  

  • Willfully forsakes a child (i.e., to intentionally surrender, leave, desert, or relinquish the child) 
  • Fails to care for and keep control and custody of the child, leaving the child exposed to physical or moral risk without proper and sufficient protection  
  • Fails to care for and keep the control and custody of a child so that the child shall be liable to be supported and maintained at the expense of the public, or by child caring societies or private persons not legally chargeable with their care, custody, or control  

When we think of child abandonment, we think of a parent who packs up, leaves, and never turns back, but that is far from the only way a child can be considered abandoned. Leaving your child for an extended period of time is only one of the ways that child abandonment is interpreted. Any time you fail to provide your child with their necessities like food, shelter, clothing, medical care, or emotional support, you could face a child abandonment charge.  

Why Has a Claim of Child Abandonment Been Made Against Me?  

Many people are obligated to report if they suspect your child has been abandoned, including teachers, school workers, medical professionals, law enforcement, and clergy. Mandatory child abandonment reporters have been trained to pick up on signs of potential abandonment. Some things that may leave a mandatory reporter to suspect child abandonment are if your child appears to have poor hygiene, is frequently hungry, is often tired, has a physical or health problem that has not been addressed, or the child's out-of-school life seems unstructured and unsupervised.  

How Will My Custody Agreement Be Impacted if DCPP Finds I Have Abandoned My Child?  

If you are facing a charge of child abandonment, it is likely your co-parent will attempt to change the custody agreement of the child they share with you. Common modifications could include the co-parent seeking sole custody or limiting your visitation rights to only supervised visitation. Particularly if this is not your first time facing a child abandonment or neglect charge, it is possible that your co-parent, or even the state, will attempt to terminate your parental rights altogether.  

What Can I Do to Fight for My Child?  

Child abandonment cases are rarely simple. If you were going to abandon your child, you wouldn't be on the Lento Law Firm website right now; we know that you care deeply for your child and want what is best for them. The best way to fight for the relationship you have with your child is to show up for them, and the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team can help. We will walk you through your legal options to find a solution that meets your needs and appeases the court. To start fighting for your child, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.  

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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