It is unfortunate that some children are left without any contact from their father or mother after their parents separate. If you are the custodial parent, this lack of communication and support may convince you that the non-custodial parent must lose his or her parental rights.
How long do you have to wait before you can petition the court to terminate the parental rights of your former spouse? The answer to this depends on your situation.
Termination Of Parental Rights Due To Child Abandonment
Child desertion or abandonment is one of several grounds for termination of parental rights in Virginia. In the legal sense, abandonment is not merely walking out on the child – it means willfully leaving the child for a period of time in destitute circumstances (typically by not providing financial support), and without giving information regarding one’s return. Thus, the absent parent’s lack of contact or support for your child may constitute child abandonment.
Is there a specific period of time before you can legally claim child abandonment? The Virginia Code says that if the absent parent has not supported you or the child for 30 days, it can be considered evidence that this absent parent has intent to abandon. Though this does not automatically make your former spouse guilty of abandonment, it can be a starting point if you are seeking to bring up a child abandonment case.
Other Grounds To Terminate Parental Rights In Virginia
Apart from abandonment of the child, other circumstances that are grounds for termination of parental rights include:
- Parent has subjected or exposed the child to abuse or torture
- Parent’s habitual abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Parent is unable to fulfill parental duties due to emotional or mental deficiency
- Parent has been convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter of the other parent of the child, or another child of the parent’s.
If your child was placed in foster care, there are also circumstances where the absent parent may lose his or her parental rights:
- If the parent has, for no good reason, failed to contact, provide, or plan for the child for six months during foster care
- If the parent has, for no good reason, failed to remedy the conditions that led to the child’s foster care placement, within 12 months from the date of placement.
Some of these rules can be confusing or complicated, especially when considering the complexities of your own family’s situation. It is best to talk to a family law attorney for guidance that best suits your specific case. Give us a call at Holcomb Law – we’re ready to answer your questions.