Child Abandonment in Florida

by Single Parent from Florida

I am currently a single parent that has had physical custody of the child for about 2 years.

By court order we have split parental responsibility.

The other parent has the right to see the child as long as it is in my house every day of the week if they feel.

In the past year the other parent has seen the child about 4 times.

The parent has not seen the child for the last 11 months.

The other parent contacts the child about 2-3 times a week.

After reading the definition of abandonment by Florida Statutes Chapter 39.01:

'Abandoned' or 'abandonment' means a situation in which the parent or legal custodian of a child, in the absence of a parent or legal custodian, the caregiver, while being able makes no provision for the child's support and has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship" includes but is no limited to, frequent and regular contact with the child through frequent and regular visitation or frequent and regular communication to or with the child and the exercise of parental rights and responsibilities.

Due to my situation does this fit the definition?

Answer to Child Custody Question

Dear Single Parent,

Yes, maybe.

Your ex may have abandoned your child according to Florida's definition for child abandonment, if he has more than just shared parental responsibility "in the absence of another parent or custodian."

And if this is the case, from what I gather from your question, it looks as if you certainly believe this is true.

But... then again, contact "2-3 times a week", by some standards may very well be considered as "frequent contact", so your situation may not be considered as abandonment at all.

My first question is, why do you want to know whether your child has been abandoned?

And more importantly, how does knowing that the other parent has abandoned the child benefit your child in any way?

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to force someone to visit their child.

Some parents are not good at being parents, but they are still parents and as such are guaranteed certain rights.

Proving abandonment in your case may be very difficult to do as this looks like a border-line case solely going by your description of the current situation.

And what are you trying to get the court to do by proving child abandonment?

Deny visitation?

Get the child's name changed?

Get sole custody and decision making authority?

Bottom line is, I don't think this fits the definition of child abandonment.

It's more like poor parenting on your ex's part.

Reader Comments

Child Abandonment
by: Anonymous

I have read the information (above) where someone else had asked about Child Abandonment. My husbands situation is different.

They have split custody and he pays child support to the children's mother. She moved to Houston Texas the end of July and has left the children with us. She was calling the kids on a regular basis.

We have a court order to pay child support which we continue to pay so he doesn't get in trouble. We have tried to get the custody modified but with that we have to have her served with documentation dealing with the modification.

That did not work because she will not provide us with an address and when she did we googled it and it was fake. She has not tried to contact the children since the first of the month.

Has she been gone long enough for my husband to file Child Abandonment? Also what paperwork do we need to file it?

We also found out that she has a warrant for her arrest here in Florida which might be why she is not giving us her address. Is there a way to by pass the searching for her because of this and if so is there paperwork for that?

I know in most cases you have to put something in a local paper of where you think they are stating that you are looking for them and its for 30 or 60 days that you have to do this. We are tired of paying child support to her when these funds can be used on the children.

--My understanding is that the court is limited in what it can do if you use constructive service to serve her. You really need to speak to a lawyer about this. --Staff

Best Interests Abandonment?
by: adirolf

I have provided food, clothing, shelter and 24/7 nurture for a grandchild, 30%, 75%, 65% of the first 3 years (food,clothing and financial support even when not residing with me) and 100% of everything for the past 18 months.

Contact with the birth mother is well intended but she still can not provide support herself at any level. The birth father has never cared for the child, says that he does not intend to but wants to see her at his convenience.

Child support was paid briefly by him through unemployment benefits and may resume with future employment.

The best advice a Sumter County lawyer can give me is that the parents have provided for the best interests of the child by leaving her in my care and to let things continue as they are.

I can't claim abuse or neglect because I have prevented it. The case will seriously impact my finances and likely not change the status quo.

Threats from the father to pick her up and disappear keep the mother in a panic. We would like to plan for retirement, down size, move---as retirees or "older parents" it makes quite a difference in our choices.

The child is thriving, allergies maintained, loving school, secure, friendly and understands she is loved by all. The birth mother is open to permanent guardianship after realizing that kinship guardianship can be revoked by someone who still after over 5 years can't get it together either.

We don't wish to condemn either parent but easily could. We want a stable situation for the child that will allow us to stop being uncertain as to whether a knock at the door will rip her life in two.

The birth mother feels that the security of us having permanent guardianship may help her move out of this drama and into carving out her life and a future one for a healthy daughter. Is there a viable, affordable and successful solution out there?

--So sad. Have a look at our temporary custody and grandparent adoption pages to see if these may be viable for your situation...

Temporary Custody in Florida

Florida Grandparent Adoption


Child abandonment

by: Anonymous

My step daughters mother has not seen or called her in years. We don't even have an address or phone number for her.

We would like to file for abandonment and step parent adoption. We don't have the money for a lawyer.

Anyone know what paperwork we will need and the cost to file in fl?

--This sounds like an ideal case for a stepparent adoption with an involuntary termination of parental rights because of abandonment. See our Stepparent Adoption page for the forms and more information. --Staff

Can we file for abandonment?

by: Danielle C.

My situation is a mess. I have my son Child C. There has never been a custody order as we were never married. Child C is 9 and the father has not seen or called my son in 4 years.

He doesn't pay his child support regularly. He is trying to stop or lower the payments. I have asked for him to let my husband adopt child C. he refuses but wants nothing to do with him.

I along with my husband and child C want his name changed to match my husband who he knows as daddy. Can I file abandonment on him?

I also have to other kids Child K 8 year old female and Child A 7 year old male. Child A and K have the same mom she does not contact them regularly.

The last time was 2 months ago. She lost custody 5 years ago and has court ordered supervised contact. Never paid support.

Can we file abandonment on her? Child A has a separate dad who has not been in contact in 4 years. Seldom pays support and gets arrested regularly. Can we file for him as well?

We want to adopt Child A so he forever knows he has a place even if mom and dad never step up?

--Very complicated situation. You have two or three separate filings in your case. Again, if the other parent is not willing to voluntarily give up their parental rights, it will be very difficult to do this without a lawyer. --Staff

Step Parent Adoption

by: momoftwo

I left my ex husband after he beat our son. My two children and I lived in a safe house while he was let out of jail, because it was his first offense and he was signed out by his commanding officer in the Army.

There was an emergency retraining order and a temporary restraining order put out, but before I could make it permanent, the children and I left the state so that I could accept a full time job.  In the mean time, our divorce went through. He did not show up to any of the mediation or court hearings.

The judge granted me sole custody and he could have supervised visitation at my discretion, due to the abuse. He since moved to the same state the children and I live in.

He and I set up a schedule for him to call and see the children. Despite the schedule, he hasn't seen the children for 9 months, hasn't paid the court ordered child support for 15 months and has called 5 times in 6 months.

I am now engaged. My fiance would like to adopt the children, and while we know that we have to be married for a year before he can file, we don't know if this continues, if it would qualify as abandonment by my ex husband.

--It is possible that a court could rule in favor of an involuntary termination of parental rights of the biological father and grant a stepparent adoption. However, this will be very difficult to do in your situation, especially if your ex contests the action. I would not recommend that you file pro se . You should see a lawyer. --Staff

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Answer provided by Kenneth Diaz, (800) 868-3010, © 2015

Kenneth has been a Florida Legal Document Preparer since 1998. Currently, he publishes and writes content for legal websites and does freelance paralegal work through referrals only.


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Page last updated 02/07/2015
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