Updated: Nov 1, 2021
The word "abandonment" and "parental kidnapping" are often tossed around in custody and divorce matters. In reality, it very rarely actually applies to these cases, let's look at a few common issues and questions people have:
Abandonment of a House: Leaving a house before or during a divorce does NOT "abandon" your interest in this marital asset. If the situation is bad at home, or dangerous, it makes sense to leave the house. Leaving the house does NOT mean you won't get any equity in the house or that the other party automatically gets it. If there are children involved, discuss with your attorney about getting a temporary parenting time order in place before leaving the property or soon afterwards. Discuss with your attorney the best way to leave the property and what, if anything, you should take with you when leaving.
Abandonment of Children: This is a very common term slung around in contested custody cases. True "abandonment of a child" is defined as "a parent or parents leaving a child with no supervision or care." If a parent has left the child with the other parent, this is NOT abandonment and does not take away that parent's legal rights to parenting time or custody now or in the future. True abandonment of a child is an issue for Child Protective Services and may involve an abuse/neglect proceeding, it does NOT mean a parent has left the house before or during a divorce or custody action.
What do I do if I have to leave my children with the other parent and move out? Discuss your case with an attorney immediately. The longer you go without having regular parenting time with your children, the more you risk having less parenting time in the future as the bonds with your children will be diminished. Leaving your child with the other parent does not automatically mean you've abandoned your rights to have parenting time with the children now or in the future. It's important to note that transitioning out of the household is certainly not "abandonment" as defined above.
Always be wary when leaving your children without having discussed the situation with a qualified attorney. It is always a good idea to have a case pending and a hearing scheduled for a temporary parenting time order if you plan on leaving the children or have already left the home.
Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles cases in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and all surrounding counties, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471