What Is Considered Child Abandonment in Georgia?

By Beverly Bird

Updated December 15, 2018

Cute boy looking through the window


Georgia defines child abandonment as neglecting a child’s basic needs for a period of 30 days or longer. This means leaving the child without sufficient nourishment, shelter or clothing. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a parent or guardian left the child naked and hungry on a street corner, but rather he failed to take any steps to ensure her basic needs are met.

Child Abandonment Warrants

Georgia law allows a custodial parent to charge the noncustodial parent with abandonment if he stops paying child support. She can request a criminal non-support abandonment warrant from the court. Depending on the county, the court will either determine that abandonment has occurred or a judge will order a second hearing. The noncustodial parent can then appear at the subsequent hearing to defend himself or even dispute paternity. The custodial parent must first have an open child support case with the Georgia Department of Human Services. If a child is discovered abandoned by someone who’s not a parent or guardian, the state can initiate charges.

Criminal Charges

When a parent is found guilty of child abandonment in Georgia, he faces up to 12 months in prison or a fine of $1,000. Criminal abandonment of a child is a misdemeanor offense unless the parent leaves the state. In this case, the charge increases to a felony, with the parent risking one to three years in prison.