Child Abandonment Question


#1

My stepson has a minor child with an ex-girlfriend. She currently lives in North Carolina and he lives in Georgia. She has primary custody via court order. She is planning to move soon to Iowa with her current boyfriend and it is believed that she is going to leave the child with her parents here. Is there a point where it would be considered abandonment of the child and my stepson can assume full custody?

As a followup question…can we as grandparents file for custody at any point after a period of time where she does not return to pick up the child and believe it will be in the best interest of the child for him to be with us?


#2

Your stepson can file for custody based on a substantial change of circumstances affecting the best interest of the child. If there was never a custody order or written agreement, then he doesn’t even need to show there was a substantial change in order to file for custody. Since the mother is leaving the child while she moves out-of-state, this will certainly be a significant change that the court will look at. Courts will prefer the natural parent over the natural grandparents, provided the parent is fit, so he will have an easier time getting custody because of this preference than her parents will. Grandparents do not have custodial rights and if the child is not living with one parent, it is presumed the other parent should have custody. The non-custodial parent should move forward to be awarded physical custody.


#3

Crystal,

Is your firm admitted to practice in Moore County? If so, can you give me an idea of a fee to represent my son who has limited income? And if not, can you refer me to a firm that may be able to represent him in this matter?


#4

We do not handle Moore County here at Rosen, but would be happy to refer you to an attorney in your area who does. Please contact our client liaison by dialling the main number and selecting extension 100 for a referral.