Child Custody

questions & answers

Question: I have a 22 month old daughter and I am 7 months pregnant with my son. My children have the same father and we are not married. He was incarcerated for the first 10 months of our daughter's life and recently went back to jail in January. He is looking at 6-8 years but possibly taking a plea agreement for 3-5 years. He is a drug addict that has been in and out of treatment for years. Can I file abandonment on him since he is incarcerated, has a long history of drug usage and multiple felonies?

Answer: Yours is not a simple question.  Child abandonment is defined in Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 8-531 (1) :  "Abandonment means the failure of a parent to provide reasonable support and to maintain regular contact with the child  . . ."  In 2000, the Arizona Supreme Court decided the case of Michael J v. Arizona Department of Economic Security, 196 Arizona 246.  In that case the Court held that incarceration alone is not enough for a finding of abandonment.  The Court considers a number of factors including how long the incarceration will be and whether the incarcerated parent has made efforts to continue relations with the child -- cards, letters, gifts, etc.  It would be in your best interests to talk with a lawyer and lay out the specific facts of your situation.  There are 3 programs in Arizona that you can use to get some inexpensive legal advice and guidance.  One is the Modest Means Program.  If you are financially qualified for the program, for a $75 fee, Modest Means  will arrange a one hour consult with an experienced attorney.  If you need additional help and the attorney agrees to take your case, the fee charged will not exceed $75 per hour.  The telephone number is (866)637-5341.  Both the Maricopa and Pima County Bar Associations have lawyer referral programs that offer a 30 minute consult with an experienced attorney.  Maricopa County's Lawyer Referral Service offers a 30 minute consult for a fee of $40.  The telephone number is (602) 257-4434.  Pima County's Lawyer Referral Service offers a 30 minute consultation for a fee of $35.  The telephone number is (520) 623-4625.

QUESTIONS

  • I have a 22 month old daughter and I am 7 months pregnant with my son. My children have the same father and we are not married. He was incarcerated for the first 10 months of our daughter's life and recently went back to jail in January. He is looking at 6-8 years but possibly taking a plea agreement for 3-5 years. He is a drug addict that has been in and out of treatment for years. Can I file abandonment on him since he is incarcerated, has a long history of drug usage and multiple felonies?

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