Can I Sue My Father for Abandonment? [IS IT LEGAL]

Ever wondered if you can sue your father for abandoning you? No, you cannot sue your father without your other guardian’s consent. A child in the United States cannot submit a lawsuit in their own name. They need a guardian or a person ordered by the court (guardian ad litem) to file a claim for them.

Being abandoned by your father is a terrible and scarring experience to go through as a child. Abandonment issues can contribute to future mental health problems like anxiety, depression, mistrust, and unreasonable worry. These issues are likely to have repercussions in many areas of life, including work, social interactions, and personal connections. If your father abandoned you, can you sue him for it?

Whether you are a minor under 18 or an adult of an abandoned father, this article will explain why suing your father for abandonment is not an easy operation. We’ll explore why it is so difficult to do and what abandonment does to a person throughout their lives.

Legal papers and judge hammer symbolizing legal matters

Related Reading: How To Get Back At Your “Deadbeat” Dad

Is It Possible to Sue Your Father for Abandoning You?

Before we begin, we must fully understand what child abandonment means. Because of the natural and healthy dependence children have on their parents, children will have a tough time without them unless they have other strong and healthy adult supports in their life.

Young people whose parents have abandoned them are generally more susceptible to harm, both physically and psychologically, for a myriad of reasons. Laws in the United States outline the definition of child abandonment, the penalties for abandoning a child, and the repercussions of doing so.

What Defines Child Abandonment?

When a parent refuses to provide for a child in any way, whether materially or emotionally, they have abandoned that child. Abandonment includes giving up custody of a kid, failure to pay court-ordered child support, or refusing to have any communication with them for an extended length of time, whether the parents have sole or shared custody.

There are two main categories of child abandonment:

Emotional Abandonment

Emotional abandonment is when children live with their parents; however, the parent does not give the child love, affection, and emotional support. This causes a child to feel isolated, unloved, and alone. In this case, a parent offers no reassurance that everything will be alright; they literally don’t acknowledge the child at all.

Physical Abandonment

As the name suggests, this type of child abandonment is when the parent physically abandons their child; whether they leave the child on a stranger’s doorstep or leave them alone at home for days or weeks at a time. The child is physically alone, and the parent is physically absent.

What Are the Laws Regarding the Abandonment of a Child?

Most states in the United States see child abandonment as a serious criminal offense, while the definition of “abandonment” varies from state to state. If a parent abandons a child, the court may try to locate another relative or family friend to take up custody and look after the child.

You cannot legally terminate parental rights and responsibilities during an adoption without the biological parents’ agreement in most states. If the child’s biological parents can’t be found, the state will take custody of the children and consider placing them in an adoption agency that will find a foster parent to take care of them.

Legal Definition of Child Abandonment

When a parent gives up their child without putting them up for adoption, they are committing child abandonment. A foundling is a term for a youngster who has been left on their own and is often referred to as “left-behind children” in academic literature. Laws regarding the criminality of child abandonment vary from one jurisdiction to the next.

A parent contemplating abandonment may be permitted to remove their child to a safe location where they will face no legal consequences in some areas. Homicide or serious child abuse charges may result from abandoning a child. Many incidences of abandonment can be traced back to poverty.

Why Did Your Father Abandon You?

Although not all parents plan to leave their child(ren) behind, circumstances may force them to do it. Here are some of the most common explanations for why parents abandon their children;

Mental Health Issues

A parent’s mental health precedes their ability to protect and support the child if they are experiencing emotional instability.

The parent could have a diagnosable mental illness or could well have abandoned the child because of postpartum depression, which can continue for a lengthy period and make caring for a child seem like an impossible undertaking. It could lead to rejection down the road.

Substance Abuse

Parents who abuse substances are less likely to be able to provide a stable environment for their children and choose to abandon them.

Related Reading: 11 Reasons Why Sober Parents Are Just Better

Inability to Care for The Child

When parents cannot meet their kid’s fundamental requirements, they sometimes choose to abandon them. The parents’ own lives may be in danger, or they are facing extreme financial difficulties or bankruptcy and they may feel they have no choice but to abandon their kids.

What Are Your Chances of Success When Suing Your Father for Abandonment?

The lawsuit against your father will be a tort claim. Whenever the plaintiff (you) is under 18 at the time of the occurrence, the statute of limitations is tolled until you turn 18, meaning that you’d have 2 years from when you became 18 to submit the claim.

Once you’ve turned 20, the statute of limitations expires, and the lawsuit will be dismissed if filed at that time. Obtaining proof to substantiate your claim, particularly proof of damages, will be difficult at that stage. Your damages would consist of the expense of any medical treatment or counseling you required to cope with your father’s abandonment.

Regarding the lack of support while you were a child, even when you had the standing to pursue the claim, it is far too late to do so. Even if you could, you probably do not have proof of the amount of money you’ve spent paying for therapy to deal with the aftermath of having to look after yourself for the duration of your father’s abandonment while you were a child.

Is It a Crime to Abandon a Child in Canada?

Whoever abandons or exploits a kid under ten so that the child’s life is jeopardized or the child’s health is likely to be irreversibly affected is guilty of a prosecutable offense and is subject to a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

A child is considered abandoned if their parent, guardian, or other caretaker leaves them without providing for their physical safety, health, or welfare, or if they leave them with the aim to permanently abandon the child. From the way this is stated, it would not apply if the father leaves them with the other custodial parent (such as their mother).

What Is Canada’s Penalty for Abandonment?

The state could file criminal charges against you if you are found to have abandoned a child. Therefore, a conviction for abandoning a kid can lead to a prison term of up to two years. Every infraction may also result in a punishment of up to $10,000.

Is It a Crime to Abandon a Child in the United Kingdom?

Contrary to popular belief, no “baby hatches” or “anonymous birthing regulations” exist in the United Kingdom, and it is illegal to abandon a kid behind closed doors.

However, there are currently no centralized databases that record occurrences of child abandonment in general, and there is no statute that precisely describes what constitutes child abandonment. This is why it’s crucial to formulate comprehensive policies on the abandonment of children across the country.

Researching the causes of covert child abandonment is challenging because there are so few examples. Furthermore, the act makes it extremely difficult to investigate the personalities of the parents engaging in it.

Although research on the causes of open abandonment is limited, preliminary findings suggest that considerations of race and honor play significant roles.

To advance our knowledge, much more study is required. Considering the comparatively low prevalence of child abandonment in the United Kingdom compared to other EU nations, it is crucial to investigate the underlying social aspects and significant variables responsible for this.

In the United Kingdom, all citizens are entitled to free and confidential family planning counseling, and clinics and centers are dedicated to the sexual health of persons under 25. As a bonus, all female citizens have access to free contraception, and numerous programs supply young people with free condoms.

Continue Reading: Can You Find Your Biological Father Without His Name?


Suing your father for abandoning you as a child is not as straightforward as one would hope. So many factors play a role, from the reasons he abandoned you, what age you were at the time of abandonment, and what the circumstances were at that time.

Fatherly abandonment is very hard to prove, especially if you are an adult and decided to sue him after you turned 18. If a child is currently being abandoned by their father, the best thing they can do is get advice from a social services institution or child custody lawyer.

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