When Is a Child Considered Abandoned In New York ?

Under SSL 384-b(5)(a), a child is considered an abandoned child when his/her parent "evinces an intent to forgo his or her parental rights and obligations as manifested in his/her failure to visit the child and communicate with the child or agency, although able to do so and not prevented or discouraged from doing so by the agency." The statute also specifically states that the social services agency is not required to make diligent efforts to encourage communications between the parent and the child or the agency. In Matter of Julius P., 63 N.Y.2d 477, 483 N.Y.S.2d 175, 176, 472 N.E.2d 1003 (1984), the Court of Appeals stated that "the statute makes clear that the burden rests on the parent to maintain contact and that the subjective good faith will not prevent a finding of abandonment." The Court also noted that the agency does not have to exercise diligent efforts to encourage communications between a parent and a child although it cannot discourage them. Despite the clear language of the statute, the respondent argues that the Agency was obligated to make diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parent/child relationship.