Child Abandonment in Arizona

Child Abandonment in Arizona

Child abandonment, often associated with extreme scenarios, involves a parent neglecting support and regular contact. Typical situations include prolonged separation without contact or a parent relocating without communication. Legally, abandonment signifies minimal efforts by a parent to support and connect with the child, with six months of neglect establishing prima facie evidence.

In Arizona, financial support is obligatory, impacting abandonment assessments. Regular contact, even for distant or incarcerated parents, requires effort through visits, calls, letters, and gifts. Intent is irrelevant; the focus is on the parent’s actions rather than intentions.

Child Abandonment and Child Neglect are Criminal Offenses

Neglect of a child and child abandonment usually go hand in hand. The definition comprises of the failure of providing clothing, food, a place to live or medical care. It will also comprise of allowing children to be around noxious, volatile substances or the manufacturing of drugs.  Children that get exposed to illegal drugs, and physically and/or sexually abused children are also thought of as neglected. Children born with illegal drugs in their system satisfy the meaning of a neglected and abused child.

Parents that neglect or abandon their children might subjected to criminal prosecution.  The minimal charge under is going to be for a class one misdemeanor.  The potential penalties when convicted are: up to six months in prison, three years’ probation and a $2,500 fine.

If deemed necessary by the District Attorney’s Office, prosecution can occur under A.R.S. § 13-2623, a felony statute. A parent may face charges for “carelessly” abandoning or neglecting their child, resulting in a class 4 felony conviction and a minimum prison term of 1 year. In cases of “senseless” abandonment or neglect, the parent may be prosecuted for a class 3 felony, carrying a minimum prison term of 2 years. If the jury determines that the parent “deliberately” abandoned or neglected the child, the penalty escalates to a class 2 felony, with a minimum prison term of 4 years.

Child Abandonment and/or Neglect Could Result in the Dissolution of Parental Rights

When the Arizona Department of Economic Security, through CPS, identifies a parent’s abandonment or severe neglect of a child, the agency is mandated to take measures to terminate parental rights. CPS seeks family rehabilitation in cases where possible, offering services and visitation to parents struggling with issues like substance abuse. However, if reunification is unfeasible, the state may pursue a severance action. In such cases, the parent is entitled to legal representation, and the court requires clear and convincing evidence to support severance. If parental rights are terminated, the parent has the right to appeal, allowing the court to weigh the parent’s rights and actions against the child’s best interests.


  1. Family and children child abuse & neglect child abandonment. (n.d.). Retrieved May 04, 2021, from

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