When Is It Considered Child Abandonment of a Non Custodial Parent

Child Abandonment Laws in VA – When Is It Considered Child Abandonment of a Non Custodial Parent


Hello, how you doing? My name is attorney Chad L. Simpson, and I’m an associate attorney for Holcomb Law. A common question that we sometimes get here at the firm is, how long do I have to go without contacting my child for me to lose my rights? An answer could be, as little as six months. While you may find that surprising, let me give you an example. A lot of times we’ll have step parent adoptions. That’s where you have two individuals that are married, or they’re not necessarily married, but you have two individuals that have a child together. They get divorced or they get separated. The other party gets married, whether it be the spouse or the wife. And now they want to adopt the child because they haven’t had much contact with the other spouse.

And normally, when you get an adoption, a step parent adoption, you normally have to get consent from the other parent in order for the adoption be successful. There’s two aspects for a stepparent adoption. There’s a statutory requirement, and there’s also the constitutional side. The constitutional side of an adoption is a very hard burden to prove. And generally, if someone’s trying to adopt the other child, it’s hard to overcome the constitutional aspect of the adoption. However, there is a statutory requirement, that if it is passed, then you do not even have to look at the constitutional requirement. Now, what that statute says is, if an individual files a petition for adoption for a child, and he needs to get the consent of the other party. If that other party does not have contact with the child for six months after the filing of the petition, you can go through with the adoption without that other party’s consent.

So the lesson learned here is, it is possible for you to lose your rights to your child if you do not have contact with him on a regular basis. What I would recommend, if you have a child, you send them a postcard every month. You send them a birthday card every month. You always try to do something that keeps you in contact with that child. Because if you do have a child, and one of the parents wants to adopt that child, and you have not had contact with that child for six months after they filed the petition, then that person would be able to go forward, and could possibly go forward with the adoption without your consent.

You could argue, well, I’ve been paying spousal support this whole time. I’ve been paying his health insurance. Well actually, the statute states that paying child support and paying for health insurance is not having regular contact with the child. So really, all you have to do is to be able to attempt to call the child, send the child a postcard every month, or do something that keeps you in regular contact with the child. So I just want to go ahead, in closing, to say that you could lose your rights to a child in as little as six months, if you don’t have any contact with them at all. So therefore it’s very crucial that you stay in contact with your child at all times. If you have any other questions dealing with your rights, please feel free to call Holcomb Law, or come by and see us. We’re always glad to see you. Thank you.