How to File an Abandonment Warrant

Non-custodial parents can be court-ordered to pay child support.
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In order to file an abandonment warrant, there must be evidence that the accused parent has refused to give financial support in the form of food, shelter or clothing to a dependent child for a period of longer than 30 days. An abandonment warrant can be filed by any parent or caregiver, against the parent that has withheld support, even if the child was born out-of-wedlock. In some cases, the accused parent can be charged with misdemeanor or felony child abandonment, and could serve jail time and pay a fine in addition to child support.

Travel to the warrant office in the county the child resides. A warrant for abandonment needs to be filed in the county in which the custodial parent or care taker and the child reside.

Fill out the required paperwork. There is typically a small fee due when filing the warrant. Since the fee may vary from county to county, verify your fee with the warrant office. You will need the full mailing address for the person against whom the warrant is being filed.

Read More: What Is Child Abandonment?

Swear in front of the clerk of the court that the information on the application is true. This is required when filing an abandonment warrant, and serves as proof that the custodial parent or caretaker is acting in good faith.

Attend the hearing. After the warrant is filed, a judge will schedule a hearing to listen to the case. At this hearing, the presiding judge will decide if child abandonment has taken place. There are a few options for the accused parent: if paternity is in question, the father can request a DNA paternity test, however he must agree to pay the cost for the test. The accused parent requests a hearing for probable cause. The accused parent also has the option, at the time of the hearing, to agree to pay child support. The accused parent will be paired with a social worker to open a case file.

Follow up with the paperwork and the court's ruling from the hearing. If a motion for child support recovery is already open, a warrant for abandonment may not be issued until the child support case is closed. The judge may decide that the warrant case will be seen in a court with a jury present. The jury will then listen to the facts and any experts related to DNA testing or other matters. After hearing all of the evidence, the jury will decide if the accused parent has abandoned the child.


  • If a child is born out-of-wedlock, the father may be required to pay some of the medical expenses incurred by the mother due to the birth of the child.
  • Even if a warrant for abandonment has been filed in the past, it may be filed again. If the accused parent was not found guilty of abandonment previously, it has no bearing on the outcome of the new warrant.

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