Is this child abandonment? - Missouri

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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 05:43 AM   #1
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Default Is this child abandonment? - Missouri

Had a custody modification about 4 months ago, judge granted me sole physical custody and joint legal. Parenting plan introduced by me and my attorney, and approved by judge, allowed for no child support to be paid to or from either parent. Also, per court order, I have final say on any and all disagreements between the other parent and myself.

Per court order, the other parent is not allowed any visitation, but is allowed to call or email child. Other parent has not attempted to contact child since October of 2009. Other parent previously relayed wishes to me of signing TPR for the intent of allowing my spouse to adopt child. Other parent has not pursued the TPR, choosing instead to terminate contact.

How long do I need to wait before I hire an attorney to pursue TPR for abandonment? Is this even considered abandonment? The other parent has dropped-out, basically. Our family wants to move on.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 06:48 AM   #2
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Default Re: Is this child abandonment? - Missouri

Have you tried making contact and simply asking the other parent to sign the TPR document and then you will handle everything else? Sometimes a simple call can solve a lot of problems before they start.

If the discussion has already been had then keep your call about that and not blasting the other parent for lack of involvement or anything. If you make them defensive because you attack then you created a fight.

Call and say Hey I know we had talked about this, I would like to get it started all I need is your signature.
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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 08:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: Is this child abandonment? - Missouri

I haven't made a phone call asking for follow through. When it comes to my ex, the best rule is to let sleeping dogs lie. The other parent (my ex) has ceased all contact with child. I am not going to be the one to remind the parent that they still have a child.

I have looked at the Missouri Revised Statutes and just don't understand all of the stipulations when it comes to abandonment. There are a lot of "ifs."

Are there any atty's here who know what the time limit is for abandonment and can explain the stipulations listed on the Statute? I have stated the facts in my original post. I welcome any other questions.

Again, thank in advance.
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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 09:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: Is this child abandonment? - Missouri

I am not a lawyer but it is my understanding that you will be filing to terminate the other parents right due to abandonment. Sounds ok so far.

When you file with the court you will be required by law to serve the other party notice and they have the right to respond. If you think you can let sleeping dogs alone you are mistaken, you cannot do this without notifying the other parent of the legal action. Unless you lie to the court and say you have no contact information. Even then you still have to make public notices and such to the courts satisfaction that you have attempted to notify the other parent of the action.

If you think he will not fight then get do it friendly and approach him about it simply stating your just finishing what you two had already agreed to. There is nothing he has to do but sign the forms.

If you think that letting him know what you are about to do will make him want to be a father then his rights shouldn't be terminated because he wants to step up and be the father he had not been. I would even suspect he will blame you for his lost time.

Only you know what he might do but there is no way of doing it without contacting him either by polite phone call or service of court documents.

I did research Missouri's laws regarding Child abandonment and all I could find was:

568.030 R.S.Mo. (2007)
568.030. Abandonment of child in the first degree, penalty
1. A person commits the crime of abandonment of a child in the first degree if, as a parent,
guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody of a child less than four years
old, he leaves the child in any place with purpose wholly to abandon it, under circumstances
which are likely to result in serious physical injury or death.
2. Abandonment of a child in the first degree is a class B felony.

There is no specific law stating abandonment as a result of no contact by a non-custodial parent. All the Abandonment legislation was directed at custodial parents and even then do not classify it as abandonment unless the child is left in danger of injury or death.

You were given Custody and your ex doesn't even have visitation. The child was placed in your care by the courts and you ex has been legally removed of his responsibilities to care for the child and he can't leave the child in an unsafe spot as he has left the child with under court order.

I wish your state was one of the states that listed abandonment to include failure to maintain contact but I can't find one reference to any law like that in Missouri. I believe you will be looking at a court case to terminate his rights due to a lack of involvement in the child's life. You will have to show his contempt of the order to maintain communication, any attempts you made to keep communication available, why adoption by your new husband would be in the best interest of the child.

From what you said it should be easy but I would wait at least 1 year without contact. Be prepared to explain why you didn't try to keep the contact open and 'it's better not to remind him he has a child' will not go well in court.

Good luck. talk to a lawyer before you do anything but again if he already said he wanted to give up his rights there might not be a problem. I learned that if someone is willing to do something get it done right then before they change their mind so you don't have to remind them later it was what they wanted.
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