What constitutes abandonment in the Orlando, Florida Area? Can a parent’s parental rights be terminated because of abandonment of their child?
Abandonment is a ground for termination of parental rights in the Orlando, Florida Area. Section 39.806(1)(b), Florida Statutes defines abandonment:
“Abandoned” or “abandonment” means a situation in which the parent or legal custodian, the caregiver while being able, has made no significant contribution to the child’s care and maintenance or has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with child, or both. For purposes of this subsection, “establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship, includes but is not limited to, frequent and regular contact with the child through frequent and regular visitation or frequent and regular communication to or with the child, and the exercise of parental rights and responsibilities. Marginal efforts and incidental or token visits or communication are not sufficient to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with a child. The incarceration, repeated incarceration, or extended incarceration of a parent, legal custodian, or caregiver responsible for a child’s welfare may support a finding of abandonment.
The qualifying phrase ‘while being able’ excludes involuntary abandonment.
A parent’s incarceration can be a factor the court considers for termination of parental rights based on abandonment, incarceration alone is insufficient. It is also improper to terminate parental rights of a parent who is unable to financially provide for the minor child or assume parental obligation due to incarceration. The parent’s efforts, or lack thereof, to assume parental duties while incarcerated must be considered in light of the limited opportunities to assume those duties while in prison.
There must be proof by competent substantial evidence that the parent was able to significantly contribute to the child’s care and maintenance or that he/she failed to establish and maintain a positive and substantial relationship with the child.
Termination of parental rights requires clear and convincing evidence.
Clear and convincing evidence is an “intermediate level of proof that entails both qualitative and quantitative standard. The evidence must be credible; the memories of the witnesses must be clear and without confusion, and the sum total of the evidence must be of sufficient weight to convince the trier of fact without hesitancy.
If you have more questions regarding a Marital and Family Law matter in Orlando, FL, you may call Ann Marie Giordano Gilden at Ann Marie Giordano Gilden, P.A. at 407-732-7620 and set an initial consultation.
This article is for informational purposes only, and it does not form an attorney-client privilege.