Termination of parental rights in California | Child abandonment


Are you seeking the termination of parental rights in California due to child abandonment?

“I want the other parent of my child’s parental rights to end.”

Has the other parent of your child not been involved in your child’s life, either by not letting them see them or by not helping them financially? Or, the parents of the child you’ve been caring for might not have used their parental rights in more than six months. If either of these circumstances applies to you, the family law experts at Family Law Matters may be able to assist you in terminating the parental rights of the other parent or legal parents of your kid.

Over the past 20 years, our family lawyers in Southern California have helped parents who have abandoned their children terminate their parental rights. As soon as you hire our firm, you can count on our experience and accountability to help you get the best result for your case. Talk to us now.

How To Terminate Parental Rights When A Child Has Been Abandoned

Section 7820 of the California Family Code says that if a parent is found to have abandoned their child, the family law court can take away their parental and custody rights. For example, you might be able to prove that the other parent has left your child and end their custody rights if they have:


  • Had the plan to leave your child.
  • Had few or no interactions with your child for more than a year; and
  • Provided no financial support;


By giving up parental rights, the other parent would no longer be able to have custody or visitation rights over your child in the future.

The family law attorneys at Family Law Matters know how the laws on child abandonment work and can help you through your case. We know that it can be very hard to make legal decisions about your child. Let us help you all the way through the legal process.

Who can file a case for child abandonment? (Section 7820 of the Family Code)

According to California Family Code section 7820, you can start a proceeding for termination of parental rights to get a child under 18 years old released from the custody and control of the child’s legal parent or parents if the child fits any of the descriptions in California Family Code section 7822. Some people who can bring cases of child abandonment are:


  • The child’s legal parent;
  • The child’s grandparent;
  • A parent-in-law of the child;
  • An older brother or sister of the child;
  • Any other adult who is taking care of a child because the legal parents aren’t there.


When can a child abandonment case be brought? (Section 7822 of the Family Code)

If the child was left without identification or if the other parent (or legal parents) hasn’t gotten in touch with the child, we may be able to take custody away from the other parent.


Has the other parent (or both parents) talked to the child?

Section 7822 of the California Family Code says that you can file a case for child abandonment in any of the following situations:


  • The legal parent or parents have left the child without identification, like a birth certificate.
  • The child has been in the care and custody of someone else for at least six months, either by both parents or by the parent who has sole custody. During this time, the legal parent or parents haven’t given the child any money or talked to them. The legal parent(s) must also want to leave their child behind.
  • The other parent has left the child in your care and custody for at least one (1) year and hasn’t talked to the child during that time. The other parent also couldn’t have given the child any money or care for a year and had to have planned to leave the child.


If any of the above apply to your situation, you may be able to bring a child abandonment case to get the other parent’s rights to your child taken away (or legal parents). But it’s important to know that family law courts are hesitant to end parental rights because child abandonment cases are so serious. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you show the court that a finding of child abandonment is right in the circumstances and that the termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

How To Prove That The Legal Parent(s) Had The Intent To Leave The Child?

Under section 7822(a)(2) and (a)(3) of the California Family Code, you must show that one or both parents wanted to leave the child. Using the facts of your case, you can show that the legal parent or parents wanted to leave the child behind.

Section 7822(b) of the California Family Code says that the court will look at the following as proof that the parent intended to leave the child:


  • The parent or parents have left the child and haven’t given any identification for the child, like a birth certificate;
  • The child hasn’t been taken care of by the parent or parents for a long time;
  • The child hasn’t heard from the parent or parents in a long time.


If the child’s legal parent or parents have made a few half-hearted attempts to support or talk to the child, the court may decide that one parent has abandoned the child. The court doesn’t want to let parents keep their parental rights if they don’t try hard to support or talk to their children. Also, if the court has already picked a guardian for the child, and the legal parent or parents haven’t paid for the child or talked to the child, the court may say that the child has been abandoned.

Reasons for Trying to Get Your Parental Rights Revoked

Our lawyers will show the court why taking away the other parent’s rights is in the best interest of the child.

The best thing for your child might be for the other parent’s custody rights to end.

There are many reasons why you might want to end the legal rights of a child’s parent or parents. Some of these reasons are:

If you’ve remarried, you might want your new spouse to take your child as his or her own. For your spouse to adopt your child, the other biological parent’s rights must be taken away;

The other parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol and hasn’t been in your child’s life.

You might want to do what’s best for your child by ending the other parent’s parental rights so that they can’t try to get custody or visitation orders in the future.

If the legal parents of a child you are caring for have left the child with you for a long time, you may have developed a strong bond with the child. Terminating the legal parents’ parental rights will make it easier for you to become the legal parent or guardian of the child in the future if you want to adopt, file for guardianship, or take part in dependency proceedings.

If any of these are true for you, you may want to start child abandonment proceedings. Before you file a child abandonment case, you should talk to an experienced child abandonment attorney about your rights and responsibilities.


What will happen if the judge decides that the child has been abandoned?

If you can prove that the other parent has left the child, that parent will no longer have parental rights. The court makes the final decision to end the other parent’s parental and custody rights. In other words, the other parent couldn’t ask the court in the future for custody, support, or visitation. You will be the only parent who has custody of the child.

In the same way, if the court decides that both parents have abandoned the child you have been caring for, both parents’ parental rights will be taken away. This could lead to the child being adopted, given a guardian, or taking part in the child dependency process in the future.

Talk with Family Law Matters right away. Together, we will get through this.

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